Q: Regarding the CPRA’s mandate that an agency must respond to a request within 10 days , FAC and other groups claim this means calendar days, not working days. Is there some compelling basis for this belief?
A: Unless a statute containing a time limitation specifies that “days” means court days or business days, the default is to calculate using calendar days. If a particular deadline falls on a weekend or holiday, then the deadline is typically moved up to the next working day.
The normal rule of construction is that unless a statute containing a time limitation specifies that “days” means court days or business days, the default is to calculate using calendar days. This is certainly true with respect to deadlines specified in California’s court rules and California’s Code of Civil Procedure.
Many of the court rules specifying various deadlines for service of a new complaint, responding to a new lawsuit, etc., only state that the event must take place within a certain number of “days,” which, unless the rule specifies “court days,” is universally accepted by attorneys and court staff alike to mean calendar days. See, e.g., Rule of Court 3.110.
In holding that the word “day” in rule requiring papers opposing a noticed motion to be filed at least five days before hearing date means calendar, not court, days, the California Court of Appeal, found that, to the extent that a local rule and California Rules of Court, Rule 317, required a filing five court days before hearing, they did not have the force of law. Iverson v. Superior Court, 167 Cal. App. 3d 544, 548, 213 Cal. Rptr. 399 (Ct. App. 1985).
In reaching this decision, the Court pointed to the ordinary meaning of the word “days.” Id. (“The dictionary definition of “day” is “the time of light or interval between one night and the next …” or “the period of the earth’s rotation on its axis ordinarily divided into 24 hours ….” (Webster’s New Internat. Unabridged Dict. (3d ed. 1961) p. 578.) This definition supports the argument “five days” means “five calendar days.”).
Since the statute in Gov’t Code § 6253(c) does not specify, the default is that the “10 days” refers to 10 calendar days.
You might consider asking the agency what their authority is for their interpretation that “10 days” under Cal. Gov’t Code 6253(c) refers to 10 court days. Unless they can point you to something specific in the rule or its legislative history that demonstrates the legislature intended “days” to mean “business days,” then the default is that this is in reference to calendar days.
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.