A San Diego open government litigation group has sued the State of California for the recent budget-triggered suspension of key elements of the Ralph M. Brown Act. The argument: Proposition 59 of 2004, passed by more than 83 percent of the statewide vote, amended the state constitution to require that thenceforth any legislation limiting access to government meetings or records be accompanied by stated findings showing what public interest it is that needs protection and how the access restriction protects that interest. But the bill used to shut down the Brown Act requirements to post descriptive agendas and to disclose closed session actions contained no such findings, and that makes the budget action unconstitutional, says San Diegans for Open Government v. State of California. See press release and lawsuit here.
About The Editor
Terry Francke, General Counsel
Terry Francke has a 39-year history of helping journalists, citizens and public officials understand and use their First Amendment and open government rights. With CalAware, Francke has authored comprehensive and authoritative guidebooks to California law on access to government meetings and public records and the news gathering and publication rights of journalists. Focusing on these issues in public forum law, he supervises CalAware's legislative and litigation initiatives; conducts workshops on legal compliance; helps design public records audits; supports local sunshine ordinance drafting efforts; writes CalAware Today, a blog on current developments and proposals in the law and best practices; and answers countless queries by phone and e-mail from citizens, journalists, public officials and employees, and lawyers. Francke previously served 14 years as executive director and general counsel to the California First Amendment Coalition, after a 10-year post as legal counsel for the California Newspaper Publishers Association. He has served as an advisory panel member to the National Center on Courts and the Media; taught journalism law at the Department of Communication at Stanford University; and served as an expert contributor to the 1994 major revisions to the Ralph M. Brown Act and the 2004 ballot proposition making open government a basic right of citizens under the California Constitution. Francke is a 1967 graduate of the University of Notre Dame and a 1979 graduate of McGeorge School of Law, University of the Pacific. Prior to his legal career, Francke worked as a weekly newspaper editor and in military and local government public affairs positions.
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