Monthly Archives: December 2011

Court Unseals File Mistakenly Sent to Newspaper

After an assistant public defender mistakenly sent it to a newspaper, the judge who sealed a file containing a consultant’s concerns about the integrity of San Francisco’s troubled crime lab ordered it unsealed, reports Peter Jamison for SF Weekly.

Parent: Trustees' Fight to Keep Records Secret Cost $300K

A Northern California school district’s commitment to unlawful secrecy cost it an estimated $300,000 in attorney’s fees—most of it paid to two different law firms to unsuccessfully defend against a parent’s lawsuit to obtain access to his son’s pupil records, the parent says. Almost two years ago, Mike Harris asked the Roseville Joint Union High School District to show him records in connection with his son’s expulsion from the basketball team for having created a satirical video—off campus and on his own time—about adolescent drug use in the affluent Granite Bay community, and posting it on Youtube. The district showed him some, but not all the requested records. “They gave me what they said were my son’s complete official record but what they gave me was nowhere near the complete record. They claimed the electronic records and emails that they maintain and use on a daily basis were not official records and that they did not have to give them to me. They were wrong,” Harris says. When Harris’ efforts to persuade the school to let him see more of his son’s pupil records failed, he hired Paul Nicholas Boylan, an attorney specializing in records access law, to file a lawsuit to help him gain access to the withheld information. Last January Boylan commenced the court action arguing that the California Constitution, Education Code and Public Records Act gave Harris the right to view his son’s records and that the school district violated Harris’ rights as a parent when they decided to them secret. The district hired Trujillo & Vinson, a San Francisco Bay Area law firm, to defend against Harris’ lawsuit. “The District’s defense was vigorous,” Boylan says. “They did everything they could to […]

Comment: UC's Occupiers Rekindle Free Speech Themes

The recent clashes between students and police at UC Berkeley and other public campuses in the state echo the struggle in and around Sproul Plaza almost 50 years ago, writes one who was involved there and then.

Report: Assembly Likely to Let Open Records Ruling Stand

The state Assembly is unlikely to appeal a Sacramento judge’s decision last week that its budgets for members’ offices are open to the public and not protected by exemptions from the Legislative Open Records Act, reports Joe Piasecki for the Glendale News-Press.

County Faces Class Action Suit for Public Records Copy Fees

A class action lawsuit by a small information broker is the first to challenge the notion, floated nine years ago in an Attorney General’s opinion, that California counties may charge the public the full cost of producing public records, beyond the simple cost of duplication. The defendant Sacramento County charges, for the first page of a multi-page document, $13 (digital) and $3 (paper), with subsequent pages charged at $3 (digital) and $1 (paper).

Comment: LAPD Pools–and Schools–the Media It Wants

The peaceable eviction of the Los Angeles civic plaza Occupiers provided the latest evidence that mainstream media’s craving for inside access and official respect leaves uncompromising and resourceful reporting to those without the credentials, says Stephen Box. As the anticipated battle between the LAPD and Occupy LA turned into a tightly orchestrated and well-choreographed display of professionalism and principle, the real struggle turned out to be one between the Main Stream Media and Citizen Journalism. As the MSM kowtowed to the LAPD and traded their Fourth Estate cards for LAPD Press Passes, it was the public who fed the world with words, experiences, pictures, videos, commentary, narrative, interviews, and perspective. The tools were cell phones and mini-cams which fed Twitter, Facebook, and UStream.

Judge's Tentative Ruling Gets Assembly to Release Records

Prompted by a judge’s tentative ruling against it, the state Assembly has agreed to turn over individual lawmakers’ office budgets and related records to the public and the two newspapers that sued to force disclosure: the Sacramento Bee and the Los Angeles Times. Sacramento Superior Court Judge Timothy Frawley rejected the Assembly’s arguments that the adopted budgetary information was exempt from disclosure as a preliminary draft, as confidential correspondence or as protected by the deliberative process privilege. He tartly answered the Assembly’s argument that due to the constitutional separation of powers, no court could tell the Legislature how to manage its information: “The Legislature has no authority to interpret the laws and determine rights; that is the function of the judiciary. . . Having enacted the Open Records Act, the Legislature is bound to it, and this court can and shall interpret and enforce it.”