A&A: Can I access recordings made by the LA Dept. of Animal Services?

Q: Does a request for public records of public hearings of department of Animal Services include tape recordings of hearing made by hearing examiner?

A: As you may know, under the Public Records Act, public records — which include “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,” Gov’t Code section 6252(e) — are presumed to be open to the public and must be disclosed unless a specific provision of the Act or other law exempts them from disclosure. “Writing” includes not only writings in the traditional sense, but “every other means of recording upon any tangible thing any form of communication or representation, including letters, words, pictures, sounds, or symbols, or combinations thereof, and any record thereby created, regardless of the manner in which the record has been stored.” Gov’t Code section 6252(g).  Thus, presumptively the recording would be subject to disclosure, unless some exemption applies.

Bryan Cave LLP is general counsel for the First Amendment Coalition and responds to FAC hotline inquiries. In responding to these inquiries, we can give general information regarding open government and speech issues but cannot provide specific legal advice or representation.