CBS Inc. v. Block was a case before Supreme Court of California in 1986 concerning the release of lists of individuals who had been granted concealed weapons permits.
This case established that the public's right to monitor the business of government and insure its legality provides a clear justification for the release of records in the public's interest.
- Each county sheriff's office in California is responsible for issuing concealed weapons permits to individuals. Each permit must provide a reason for it being issued.
- In July 1983 CBS made a public records request at the Los Angeles County Sheriff's office for the lists of all individuals who both submitted applications and received permits for concealed weapons. The county only issued 33 permits in that year, all of which were justified by the statement, "For protection of life and property".
- The Sheriff's office rejected the request based on California's catch all exemption in statute 6255 stating that "releasing this information will allow would-be attackers to more carefully plan their crime against licensees and will deter those who need a license from making an application," both of which would run counter to the public interest. They also argued, citing American Civil Liberties Union Foundation v. Deukmejian, that the release would violate licenses holders right to privacy.
- CBS filed suit, and in August 1983.
- Both sides appealed the ruling.
Ruling of the court
The trial court delivered a split ruling. It ordered the release of the lists of permits issued with the home addresses removed because it felt that the release would not endanger the individuals who had received permits. It also felt that American Civil Liberties Union Foundation v. Deukmejian did not apply because in 'ACLU' the court ruled in favor of privacy because the release of the information would constitute an allegation of criminal activity, not the mere fact of the possession of a permit. However, it ordered the applications exempt from release.
The Court of Appeals ruled in favor of CBS, ordering both the applications and the permits released.
The court of appeals agreed with the ruling of the trial court for the most part. However, the court of appeals felt that one of the primary purposes of the California Public Records Act was to allow the public the opportunity to monitor the business of the government and insure its legality. It felt that only through the release of both accepted applications and denied applications can the public adequately determine whether the office was issuing licenses for appropriate reasons, pursuant to California law. Thus, they ordered the release of all requested documents.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 Ruling of the Court