Monday, July 1, 2019

Governor Newsom Eliminates Critical Ambiguity for Public Records Requests

Last week, Governor Newsom signed into law SB 94 as part of the new State Budget. SB 94 cleans up ambiguity found in amendments to the California Public Records Act (“CPRA”) which are set to go into effect today.

Image result for california capital

Starting today (July 1, 2019) government agencies must begin disclosing audio and video recordings from use of forces and officer involved shootings. Under the original amendments to the CPRA, an agency may withhold a recording if the disclosure would violate the privacy interest of a person depicted in the recording. However, the agency must disclose the recording to the person whose privacy is being protected.

At the same time, the original amendments allowed disclosure of the recordings to be delayed for up to a year if such a disclosure would undermine an active criminal or administrative investigation. This created an obvious ambiguity. For example, if a certain public records request was made an agency would could have been required to disclose the video to a person whose privacy is being protected even if that agency wished to delay disclosure due to a criminal or administrative investigation. SB 94 corrects this ambiguity. Due to SB 94 being signed into law, the agency must now only provide an estimated date for the disclosure of the video or audio recording to the person whose privacy is being implicated if it would interfere with a criminal or administrative investigation.