OPEN GOVERNMENT -- California's court system, beginning January 1,
will for the first time provide public access to many kinds of spending and other
administrative information of the kind available
from local and state agencies under the California Public Records Act (CPRA). The change will come in the form of an addition to the Rules of
Court that is now being hammered out in draft form, and will shortly be
opened for public comment. 

The
new rulemaking, compelled by recent legislation, is necessary because
the CPRA itself has always exempted the judicial branch from its public
information mandates.

The California Newspaper Publishers
Association (CNPA) summarizes the situation in its latest Legislative
Bulletin, noting that it, Californians Aware and the First Amendment
Coalition, as well as union negotiators and staff representatives of the Legislature's judiciary committees and leadership, all lodged informal written reactions to the first draft two weeks ago.

While the proposed rule
adopts several concepts from the California Public Records Act and the
much weaker Legislative Open Records Act, virtually all invitees at the
meeting urged the Judicial Council subcommittee tasked with creating
the rule to stick more closely with the CPRA and deviate only when the
unique characteristics of the judicial branch require it.

The
subcommittee intends to put a formal proposed rule out for public
comment on September 28, with the comment period closing on October
26.  Another stakeholder meeting will be scheduled for the second week
of November, where final adjustments to the rule will be made.  The
Judicial Council will vote on the proposed rule at its December
meeting.