Body-camera bill passes out of public safety committee On Tuesday, a measure sponsored by CNPA to make public certainbody-camera footage presumptively disclosable was passed out of theSenate Public Safety Committee on a 5-2 vote.
AB 748, by Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco),seeks to amend the investigatory record exemption of the California PublicRecords Act. Current law allows police agencies to categorically denyaccess to most police records, including body-camera footage.
The measure would require the disclosure of audio or video recordsthat depict a matter of public concern, currently defined as anincident that relates to a peace officer violation of law or agencypolicy, or a use of force. It would allow an agency to withhold therecord for up to 120 days based on an investigatory purpose, atwhich time that justification for nondisclosure would expire.
This provision is intended to overcome a perennial problem in theCPRA with respect to investigatory records, as the exemption hasbeen interpreted by the courts to permit an agency to withhold aninvestigatory record indefinitely. . .
CPRA penalty bill gutted by hostile amendments
After advancing through the Assembly as a strong transparency measure,AB 1479 by Assemblymember Bob Bonta (D-Alameda) was amended in theSenate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday to nullify the effectiveness ofthe bill.The measure would have allowed a judge to impose civil penalties onan agency that failed to comply with the California Public Records Act.Prior to the Judiciary committee hearing, the California ProfessionalFirefighters were actively opposing the measure and urging theauthor’s office to take hostile amendments that would prevent theapplication of the penalty provision.Against CNPA’s expressed concerns that the amendments wouldundermine the bill, the author was persuaded to take the firefighters’
amendments. After all of the supporters, led by CNPA, removed theirbacking of the bill, the firefighters were the only organization to expresssupport for the bill at the hearing.As now drafted, the penalty provision of AB 1479 would be nearlyimpossible for a court to apply.
Appeals court sides with newspaper carriers in independent
In a published decision last week, a San Diego court of appeal upheld
a trial court’s judgment against the former owner of the
Union-Tribune which found that the newspaper’s carriers were
employees rather than independent contractors.
One of the most troubling aspects of the decision was the appeals
court’s approval of the trial court’s refusal to recognize and apply the
30-year old EDD regulations that were created for the express
purpose of determining whether a newspaper carrier is a contractor
or an employee.
Nearly all California newspapers that contract with carriers adhere
closely to the EDD regulations in their distribution practices.
The 81-page opinion also rejected the Union-Tribune’s contention
that the trial court erred in certifying the class.
In the case, Espejo v. Copley Press, the carriers alleged they were
misclassified as independent contractors and, as a result, were
entitled to back pay and reimbursable expenses.
The trial court awarded $4,953,795 in restitution to the class and
$6,160,416 in attorney’s fees of which $1,250,000 was to be paid out
of the award to the class. The appellate court sent the case back to
the trial court and directed the court to make certain adjustments to
the amount of the restitution and attorneys’ fees awards.