FAC Urges California Supreme Court to Review Public Records Case Seeking COVID-19 Data

Voice of San Diego et al. v. Superior Court for the County of San Diego, No. S266836

Read the letter filed by the First Amendment Coalition

Court: California Supreme Court 

About the case: Voice of San Diego, KPBS Public Broadcasting, and the San Diego Union-Tribune filed suit under the California Public Records Act when San Diego County officials denied their requests for information about COVID-19 community outbreak locations. After suffering a loss at the trial court, the media coalition petitioned the Fourth District Court of Appeal for review, which it summarily denied without considering the merits of the case. The case raises important questions about the public’s right to know during times of crisis, including whether public agencies can unilaterally suspend their duties under the public records act during emergencies. “Review is necessary because the case presents an important question of first impression regarding the strength of the public interest in disclosures which may preserve life and safety during a public health emergency,” the media coalition argues.

Our position: To preserve the integrity of the CPRA, the California Supreme Court should grant review of the Court of Appeal’s decision or transfer the case to that court for a decision on the merits.

From the letter: “In reviewing this case, the Court has the opportunity to remind public agencies that the right of access to information is a matter of law, not whim. Even and especially in times of crisis, public agencies must uphold California’s commitment to open governance and the public’s right to know.”

Date filed: Feb. 10, 2021


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