A&A: My CPRA requests have been ignored. What can I do?

Q: I recently filed CPRA requests with both the California Department of Justice. I am being ignored.

These requests have to do with the hot-button issue of adult guardianships, information which the powers that be might not be too happy to release. Nevertheless, the Sunshine laws mandate disclosure. As I am being stonewalled, I am requesting input as to what I can do.

A: Where a Public Records Act request is being ignored, I always suggest writing a strongly worded (but friendly) letter to the agency setting forth the facts surrounding the request and the agency’s obligations in responding to the request, which include:

  • Responding in writing to any written requests for records within 10 days of receipt of the request, and making copies of records available promptly thereafter.  Gov’t Code § 6253(c).
  • If the agency is claiming that an exemption applies to any of the records you are seeking, it must let you know what the exemption is, and exactly how it applies to those records.  Gov’t Code § 6253(c).
  • Assisting the public in making focused and effective requests that reasonably describe identifiable records.  Gov’t Code § 6253.1.
  • You may also want to remind the agency that should you be forced to bring a lawsuit to enforce your rights under the PRA, and you prevail, the agency will be obligated to pay your attorney’s fees.  Gov’t Code § 6259.

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 unless separately retained.