Access to appointment calendars
Q: Can one use Proposition 59 to justify a public records request of the sheriff’s calendar?
A: You can request access to the Sheriff’s calendar pursuant to both the California Public Records Act (CPRA), specifically Government Code section 6253(b), and “Proposition 59” which is actually part of the California Constitution (Article I, section 3(b) of the California Constitution, to be precise).Neither the CPRA nor Article I, section 3(b) of the Constitution expressly say that “appointment calendars shall be disclosed.” Rather, Proposition 59 was intended to reverse an interpretation of the CPRA that had allowed appointment calendars to be withheld.
Specifically, the California Supreme Court had previously held that a so-called “deliberative process privilege” protected the Governor’s appointment calendars from public disclosure. See Times Mirror v. Superior Court, 53 Cal. 3d 1325 (1991). Article I, section 3(b) states: “The people have a right of access to information concerning the conduct of the people’s business, and, therefore, the meetings of public bodies and the writings of public officials and agencies shall be open to public scrutiny.” The ballot argument in support of Proposition 59 states that: “It will allow the public to see and understand the deliberative process through which decisions are made.” Thus, Proposition 59 was clearly intended to preclude the use of the “deliberative process” privilege as a basis for withholding records such as appointment calendars.Note also that the Times Mirror decision involved a broad request for several years worth of calendars, and the Supreme Court said a narrower and more focused request might have prevailed, because the public interest in disclosure would have outweighed the public interest in nondisclosure in that case.