The First Amendment Coalition and the Northern California Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists submitted an amicus letter to the California Supreme Court urging the justices to grant review in a case brought by the Electronic Frontier Foundation that seeks to ensure the public’s right of access to search warrant materials.
The letter explains how a decision by the Fourth District Court of Appeal conflicts with the First Amendment, California statutes and court rules, and the common law, all of which mandate open access to search warrant records once the warrant has been executed, with limited redactions if necessary, in all but the rarest circumstances. The decision also violated California’s constitutional rule that laws requiring access to public records — judicial or otherwise — must be construed broadly when they favor disclosure and narrowly when they do not. Discussing various examples, the letter shows how access to search warrant records is necessary to inform the public about important matters such as abuse of official power and the course of law enforcement investigations. (See more about the case.)
View the full letter, submitted on Nov. 23, 2022, and authored by by Karl Olson and Aaron Field of Cannata, O’Toole, Fickes & Olson on behalf of FAC and SPJ NorCal.
The case: Electronic Frontier Foundation, Inc. v. Superior Court of San Bernardino County, No. S277036.