Can I publish public records? Confidential records of public importance?
Q: Can I upload court and legislative abstracts for cases –of which I have been involved- and the corresponding county ordinance and state laws used in these prosecutions, which are publicly accessible? Additionally, I want to upload one settlement agreement that has a confidentiality clause binding the County and the defendant to non-disclosure, a case of which I was not involved. The record, I believe, is of public interest. I also want to link a state legal website and a certain state board public information document to our website. Can I do specifically the items listed above?
A: With respect to otherwise publicly available court or legislative documents, you should be able to upload them.With respect to the confidential settlement document, that is more sensitive. You have not provided much information regarding the manner in which this was leaked to you, nor about the nature of the confidentiality clause and what sorts of information might be protected thereunder. There are certainly risks connected with your posting that document. A safer route would be to file a Public Record Act request for the document. You may want to file another request as well as other pertinent documents relating to the settlement (perhaps as a separate request so that your request for the settlement not get held up).
Although there is an exemption under the Public Records Act for pending litigation, this litigation is no longer pending. Although the County may try to claim that the confidentiality of the settlement is supported by “public policy” reasons, there is strong case law that supports the proposition that such settlements cannot be made confidential. See, e.g., Register Division of Freedom Newspapers v. County of Orange, 158 Cal. App. 3d 893 (1984).