California Supreme Court Grants Review in Major Public Records Case

The California Supreme Court has granted review of an important electronic records access case which SPJ NorCal, along with the Pacific Media Workers Guild, urged the court to consider. The case, National Lawyers Guild v. City of Hayward, has major ramifications for the cost which public agencies are able to charge requesters for electronic records.

McManis Faulkner partner Christine Peek filed an amicus letter in the case on behalf of SPJ NorCal and the Guild. In her letter, Peek argued that the lower court’s decision in the case threatened to restrict access to electronic public records for requesters who lack institutional funding, such as freelance journalists, bloggers, and student journalists. The decision, if it stands, could effectively allow public agencies to deny access to records simply by demanding exorbitant fees.

“Our society increasingly depends on independent news outlets to enforce the public’s constitutional right of access. If this ruling stands, it would discourage government transparency and create a barrier whereby only the wealthy can afford to use the CPRA to hold the government accountable,” Peek said. “This issue is of tremendous importance to the public, and we are pleased that the State Supreme Court has granted review.”

Read more about the case here.