The First Amendment Coalition (FAC) today filed suit against the county of San Diego to force the disclosure of records relating to allegations of sexual misconduct against its District Attorney’s Office. (You can read the filed petition below.) The office has refused to release the records, which clearly must be disclosed under the California Public Records Act (CPRA) and are of significant public concern.
To date, the District Attorney has admitted to having records relating to at least six instances of alleged sexual harassment and/or misconduct dating back to 2013, including one incident in which a county prosecutor allegedly took nude photos on county property, as well as “non-sexual” photos taken in a courtroom, in violation of court policies. FAC filed suit in response to the office’s multiple refusals to turn over the public documents.
FAC originally requested these records back in April. The office did not respond in the 10-day window required by law. When it did respond, it failed to release any records. Instead, it provided only brief, tailored summaries of the allegations and actions taken by the DA in response. FAC made multiple efforts to explain to the DA’s office that providing summaries of public records does not and cannot satisfy the CPRA. The DA’s office stood firm. FAC’s lawsuit followed.
“If providing subjective summaries of public records were sufficient, the fundamental purpose of the CPRA—to provide the public with direct access to the records of public agencies—would be totally gutted,” said FAC Executive Director David Snyder. “And here, the records are of paramount public interest—as we have seen time and again in the “me too” era, sexual misconduct allegations have been allowed to fester in the dark for far too long.”
The records sought by FAC are of particular interest not just because of their nature and content, but also because they are in the possession of the District Attorney’s office, an agency that holds a special place of public trust. “The office has enormous discretion to pursue criminal prosecutions, or not, and the people are entitled to see and understand how the office investigates misconduct by those who carry out this solemn mission,” the lawsuit reads.
FAC is represented in the case by Jean-Paul Jassy and Kevin Vick of Jassy, Vick, Carolan LLP.
For more information contact:
First Amendment Coalition
Jean-Paul Jassy, Kevin Vick
Jassy Vick Carolan