Q: While traveling in California, I had property stolen out of my hotel room and I filed a police report. When I returned home, I made a public records request to the PD for a copy of the report. My request was denied. I am wondering who do I write to so I can appeal the denial?
Is there a way to file the request pursuant to the federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)?
I’m all the way in Chicago and don’t have time to get to CA for something so simple. Can your office file on my behalf IF I were to file the suit?
A: Unlike the federal Freedom of Information Act, and other state public records laws, the California Public Records Act does not establish any system of administrative appeal, neither within the agency itself nor with any other body of the state government. Rather, the only way formally to challenge a determination that a record is exempt from the Public Records Act is to file a lawsuit. Cal. Govt. Code sections 6258, 6259.
The federal Freedom of Information Act applies only to requests made to federal agencies. It does not apply to state and local agencies like the LAPD.
I did not see the request letter. But I did see the response you received from LAPD. I believe that their interpretation of the law is largely correct. The 911 tapes that you seek, for an incident that occurred in 2009, would not likely be considered contemporaneous law enforcement records subject to mandatory disclosure pursuant to Govt. Code section 6254(f)(2). County of Los Angeles v. Superior Court (Kusar), 18 Cal. App. 4th 588 (1993).
First Amendment Coalition does not offer direct legal representation. Nor does our office does provide services in its capacity as general counsel for First Amendment Coalition. You may be able to find a lawyer to represent you by contacting the Los Angeles Bar Association.
Bryan Cave LLP is general counsel for the First Amendment Coalition and responds to FAC hotline inquiries. In responding to inquiries, we can give general information regarding open government and freedom of speech issues but cannot provide specific legal advice or representations.