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Victory for Transparency: CA Supreme Court Rejects Police Union Effort to Gut Landmark Police Transparency Law

In a significant victory for government transparency and accountability, the California Supreme Court today denied a police union’s last-minute effort to undermine the effectiveness of a new, landmark police transparency law, rejecting the union’s effort to make the law (SB 1421) apply only to records created after January 1, 2019.

The First Amendment Coalition (FAC) led a coalition of media groups in opposing the union’s effort, filing papers on December 28 urging the Court to deny the effort to gut the law.

In a one-sentence order issued Wednesday, the Supreme Court rejected a petition filed on December 18 by the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Employees’ Benefit Association. The union had asked the high court to rule that the bill, signed into law in September, applies only to records created after January 1—the bill’s effective date.

The new law requires a wide range of records relating to police misconduct to be available to the public—a sweeping change in California law.

“This is a great result for transparency and for the public,” said FAC Executive Director David Snyder. “We’re grateful the Supreme Court saw through the union’s Hail Mary effort to weaken this law, which will allow broad public access to police misconduct files.”

Joining FAC in the effort to oppose the union’s petition were the Los Angeles Times, KQED, and the California News Publishers Association.

See the briefing filed by FAC here. See here for the petition filed by the police union.

FAC and the media coalition are represented in this matter by James Chadwick and Tenaya Rodewald of the Sheppard Mullin law firm.

For more information, contact:

David Snyder 
Executive Director, First Amendment Coalition
dsnyder@firstamendmentcoalition.org
415-460-5060

James Chadwick 
Partner, Sheppard Mullin
jchadwick@sheppardmullin.com
650-815-2600

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