American Civil Liberties Union Foundation v. Deukmejian was a case before Supreme Court of California in 1982 concerning exemptions based on intelligence information.
This case, by widely construing section 6255 of the California Public Records Act to include considerations of the cost of assembling and reproducing records requests and their affect on the public interest in the efficiency of government, the Supreme Court opened the door for exemptions based on the cost of records requests.
- In May of 1976 the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) requested a number of documents, including documents collected by the Law Enforcement Intelligence Unit (LEIU) concerning the profiles of suspected organized criminals as well as Interstate Organized Crime Index (IOCI), which are filed lists of known criminals and their profiles. The ACLU requested the first 100 profiles of each set with personal identifiers omitted in order to determine the content of the cards.
- The department rejected the request based on 6254, which exempts intelligence information, and 6255, which declares that records may be exempt if their release goes against the public interest.
Ruling of the court
The trial court ruled in favor of the ACLU and declared that statute 6254 was designed to protect only the confidential information of informants and subjects of the information. They thus mandated that the personal identifiers be separated and removed and the remaining documents be released.
The Supreme Court, for the most part, affirmed this ruling, declaring a wide interpretation of statute 6254 to include all police investigation records would effectively eliminate any public scrutiny of law enforcement, and thus run contrary to the California Public Records Act. However, they did expand the definition of personal identifiers to not only include explicitly identifying information, but any and all information which could lead one to infer the identity of an individual. However, they did rule in favor of the departments appeal concerning statute 6255 which calls for courts to weight the advantages and disadvantages to the public that would be incurred by any records request. The court declared that the court declared that the cost of separating exempt from non-exempt material in both labor and other expenses far outweighs the benefit received from the release of the LEIU cards after all personal identifying information has been removed. By allowing the rejection of this records request based on statute 6255, the court allowed for a wide interpretation of statute 6255 which permits the rejection of records requests based strictly on the cost of assembling the records request. However, the court did order the full release of the IOC printouts, as all information on them was derived from current public records.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Ruling of the Court