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California sunshine lawsuits

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Deliberative Process Exemption

Here is a list of major FOIA court decisions and their effect on the California Public Records Act.
(The cases are listed alphabetically. To order them by year please click the icon below the Year heading)

" Year Precedent
Adler v. City Council of Culver City 1960 1.) The Brown Act can only be construed to include official meetings where clear deliberation and voting occurs.

2.) Violations of the Brown Act are punishable as misdemeanors and can in no way be used to overturn later decisions made within the law.

American Civil Liberties Union Foundation v. Deukmejian 1982 By widely construing section 6255 of the California Public Records Act, the Supreme Court opened the door for exemptions based on the cost of records requests.
American Federation of State etc. Employees v. Regents of University of California 1978 This ruling affirmed the decision of Chronicle Pub. Co. v. Superior Court, namely, that for records requests of allegations of employee misconduct to be released, the allegation must be both well grounded (but not necesarily proved) and of substantial importance to warrant the public's interest.
Bakersfield City School Dist. v. Superior Court 2004 This case defined the criteria for the release disciplinary allegations against government employees as a reasonable degree of reliability so as to potentially confirm the allegation.
Braun v. City of Taft 1984 This case established that records of addresses and phone numbers can be considered public records and do not fall under the privacy exemption.
CBS Broadcasting v. Superior Court 2001 This case established that records requests involving personal information are not automatically exempt, but need to be considered in light of the public interest of the release.
CBS Inc. v. Block 1986 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.
California State University, Fresno Assn., Inc. v. Superior Court 2001 This case established that auxiliary associations that act on behalf of public universities are not in themselves public bodies and are therefore not subject to public records requests.
Californians Aware v. Orange Unified School District 2006 This case established that records of open meetings could be edited to redact information that was exempt from release.
Chronicle Publishing Company v. Superior Court 1960 This case established that complaints resulting in any kind of disciplinary action are public records and accessible upon request.
Citizens for a Better Environment v. Dept. of Food & Agriculture 1985 This case established a number of important precedents:

1.) For material to qualify for the "working papers" exemption found at CA GOVT. 54954.(a), it must A.) be a preliminary draft, note, or memorandum, B.) not be retained for ordinary business, and C.) the public interest must favor non-disclosure.
2.) The intention of the "working papers" exemption found at CA GOVT. 54954.(a) "is to provide a measure of agency privacy for written discourse concerning matters pending administrative action."[1]
3.) Opinions and recommendations must be separated from factual material. In addition factual material can include statements and observations made by individuals, when it is not coupled with an opinion on the subject or a recommendation for change.[1]

City & County of San Francisco v. Superior Court 1951 This case established that information collected from private companies in confidence for the purpose of creating reports is considered exempt unless the public interest is strongly in favor of disclosure because non-disclosure would result in physical harm coming to an individual or group of individuals.
City of Hemet v. Superior Court 1995 This case established that records of internal police investigations were exempt under the California penal code in order to protect the privacy of police officers from the release of unfounded allegations.
Cohan v. City of Thousand Oaks 1994 This case established that an accumulated list of violations of due process law could be construed as a prejudiced decision resulting a full enforcement of the California Open Meeting Act.
Coronado Police Officers Association v. Carroll 2003 This case established that the records of the public defender with regard to its endeavors to defend accused individuals are private due to the private nature of the litigation and to insure the effectiveness of public defense.
County of Los Angeles v. Superior Court 1993
Desert Sun v. Palm Springs Desert Resorts Convention and Visitors Authority 2005 No precedent was set with this case, as it never arrived at court.
Dixon v. Superior Court 2009
Epstein v. Hollywood Entertainment Dist. II Business Improvement Dist. 2001 This case established that the entire history of a non-profit needed to be considered in order to determine if it was created by a public agency and thus subject to the California Open Meeting Act
International Longshoremen's & Warehousemen's Union v. Los Angeles Export Terminal, Inc. 1999 This case established that private corporations who perform the function of a public legislative body and who were either directly created by that public body through legislation or indirectly created by that public body through an appointed arm fall under the California Open Meeting Act.
Lorig v. Medical Board 2000 This case established that addresses of record or business addresses held by state agents, unless otherwise explicitly exempt, do not fall under exemptions designed to protect individual privacy.
Mushet v. Department of Public Service of City of Los Angeles 1917
Register Div. of Freedom Newspapers Inc. v. County of Orange 1984 1.) The exemption for medical records applied only to required medical records and not those given voluntarily to the state.

2.) The public interest in the management of public funds can at times outweigh the public bodies need to maintain attorney-client confidentiality which better enables them to prosecute future similar cases.

San Gabriel Tribune v. Superior Court 1983 This case established that the federal evidence code and statute 6254(n) of the California Public Records Act could not be construed to exempt contracts the city takes out to perform public duties or the financial statements issued to the city by private corporations who are party to the contracts.
State Board of Equalization v. Superior Court 1992 This case established that the agreement of a requester to pay for the segregation potentially eliminates the application of the ruling of American Civil Liberties Union Foundation v. Deukmejian, which exempts material whose cost of compilation outweighs the public benefit of release.
Times Mirror Co. v. Superior Court 1991 This case established that the assurance of open deliberative process and the assurance of security could be used as aspects of public interest in favor of non-disclosure of public records under the California catch all exemption of statute 6255. The case also affirmed that the deliberative process exemption for working papers found at CA GOVT. 54954.(a) covered the entire deliberative process, not just material documents.[2]
Versaci v. Superior Court 2005 This case established the use of federal precedent for determining whether files in personal folders are subject to exemption.
Williams v. Superior Court 1993 This case established that federal FOIA law and litigation can only be used to clarify the California Public Records Act and not to add or detract from the act.