Administrative hearing transcripts
Q: I attended a hearing in my city regarding a canine noise level complaint. The hearing officer/judge found for the plaintiffs. Because of various oddities related to the hearing and the ruling, I determined that I needed to file an appeal. The administrative hearing is not appeal-able so that means I need to file a Write of Mandemus in Superior court.I requested a copy of the transcript of the hearing and received nothing.I received a call (as yet no written response) from Animal Control saying that they didn’t have the transcript and had called the judge and he claimed that they were confidential attorney work product.
1. My reading of the California Code is that a transcript of administrative hearings must be made.
2. As a party to the action, and also because this was an open meeting, that transcript should be available to me.
3. This was not an attorney-client relationship but one of an adjudicator and plaintiffs/defendants. Am I missing something? What is your advice?
A: The California Public Records Act (“PRA”) (California Government Code Section 6250 et seq.) governs access to public information and records from local government, including information and records from cities. On the local level, all government agencies except the court system are governed by the Public Records Act. California Government Code Section 6252 defines local agencies (which are subject to the Public Records Act) to include the following: “a county; city, whether general law or chartered; city and county; school district; municipal corporation; district; political subdivision; or any board, commission or agency thereof; other local public agency; or entities that are legislative bodies of a local agency pursuant to subdivisions (c) and (d) of Section 54952.”
A public record is defined as “any writing containing information relating to the conduct of the public’s business prepared, owned, used, or retained by any state or local agency regardless of physical form or characteristics.” Cal. Gov’t Code § 6252(e).Accordingly, the transcript of your administrative hearing in the City of Riverside, which is a writing having to do with City of Riverside’s conduct of the public’s business, is a public record subject to the PRA. Furthermore, the transcript of the open hearing does not constitute confidential attorney work product.