- A Battle Over California's Public Records Law
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- California Public Records Act Update
Specifically, courts and court administrative bodies may be subject to a constitutional right of access under Proposition Includes handwritings, photographs, films, sound recordings, maps, magnetic tape, computer disks-virtually any means of recording any form of communication. Computer data is clearly within the definition of a public record. According to the legislative history of the PRA:This definition is intended to cover every conceivable kind of record that is involved in the governmental process.
A Battle Over California's Public Records Law
Seeking access to names of pubic employees who are the subjects of investigations or controversies may be justified. Note that the names and contract information for private citizens may also be exempt from disclosure, particularly those who submit information or complaints to the government with an expectation of confidentiality. Agreeing to allow public agencies to withhold such information may also expedite a request.
Prepared, owned, used or retained by state or local agency. The records do not necessarily have to be in the actual custody of the public agency, if they are prepared, owned, or used by the agency. Information retained in a electronic format must be made available in any electronic form in which the agency holds the information.
However, the application of Proposition 59 to the courts or court administrative bodies has not yet been determined.
See, e. Superior Court, 90 Cal. Superior Court, Cal. Assembly Comm. Final Report p.
California State University, Sacramento
Superior Court, 52 Cal. Regents of the University of California, 80 Cal. Records must be available for inspection during the regular office hours of the agency. Some agencies are required to adopt written guidelines for accessibility of records, and to make those guidelines available free on written request. You are entitled to copies of public records. Procedures : You are not required by law to make a request is writing, but put your request in writing anyway. It gives you a record of what was requested, and establishes the date that starts time for a response running. The agency must respond to a request for public records within 10 days.
The time for responding can be extended by the agency for an additional 14 days.
The fees that may be charged for obtaining an electronic copy vary, but are generally limited to the direct cost of providing a copy in an electronic format. Materials containing both exempt and non-exempt information. Government Code section Public agencies are required, to the extent reasonable, to do all of the following. Always include in your written PRA requests a request for assistance pursuant to Government Code section In general, ask the agency to identify the records or information responsive to your request, and to describe their location.
North County Parents Organization v. Department of Education , 23 Cal. The PRA itself contains many exemptions permitting public agencies to withhold certain categories of records. Most of these are set out in Government Code section There are harms to individual researchers, who suffer harassment, high legal and processing costs, and diversion away from their primary work.
Some researchers have even left academic research positions altogether or moved to private universities. Yet the broader, more significant harm is to the public who no longer benefits from the results of important research when researchers abandon the field or stop investigating. The toxicologist found that lead in ammunition was poisoning endangered California condors, evidence that led the state to restrict lead ammunition. So how did this legislation come together? Last year, University of California Berkeley law professor and public interest advocate Claudia Polsky published a law review article on the increasing weaponization of open records laws.
The New York Times wrote about the issue, profiling a UC-Davis tax policy expert who was attacked by the tax preparation industry after he spoke out against efforts to prevent the U. Where and how to draw that line is still up for discussion. At the Judiciary Committee hearing, some committee members cautioned that without a careful approach, attempts to exempt academic materials could go too far and prevent access to information that rightfully should be in the public domain.
For example, there was agreement that we would not want legislation to inadvertently make it more difficult to find out when human or animal study participants are mistreated.
California Public Records Act Update
Thankfully, a majority of the committee recognized the significant risk to public university research from abusive CPRA requests and expressed confidence that a narrowly crafted bill could meet our twin goals of protecting transparency and quality research. UCS is a strong proponent of transparency and accountability and has actively encouraged and reached out to other California and national pro-transparency organizations to weigh in on the legislation as it develops. We have met with the California Newspaper Publishers Association, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, and several other organizations to discuss how to narrowly tailor an exemption that protects the research process while allowing for discovery of misconduct or any improper influence on that process.
Every one of those meetings has been helpful to understand the ways that the CPRA has helped uncover misbehavior at public universities, and to help craft language that would allow for this kind of accountability to continue. While the organizations named above are not yet supportive of the legislation, I am hopeful that with the right amendments, they will be.
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To me, it is encouraging to see thoughtful, reasoned dialogue about how we solve this problem. The more voices, the better. To that end, UCS welcomes input from a diversity of perspectives, including those who support the legislation in its current form and from those who think it needs to be improved.
Progress depends on input from a variety of perspectives. UCS believes it is critical to maintain public access to the vast majority of documents. You may also use the search function on the left hand navigation bar. Generally, copies are:. Data system programming costs related to extracting, compiling, and displaying data are dependent on the request and the system on which data is stored, and they will vary on a case-by-case basis. Upon a request for records that reasonably describes an identifiable record or records, LACERA will make every reasonable effort to make the records promptly available to you upon the payment of any applicable fees.