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Asked & Answered

A&A is a searchable database of questions posed by users like you about their rights under open government laws and First Amendment safeguards that have been answered by FAC’s attorneys—all First Amendment and government access specialists at Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner, LLP, an international law firm with offices in San Francisco.

A&A: How Do I Address Agency’s Failure to Honor Brown Act Meeting Notification Deadlines?

Q: The airport commission in our municipality has only given 25 hours notice of the time and location change for their next meeting. This commission is notorious for posting meeting agendas at the last minute and scheduling meetings that are not convenient for residents to attend. Is the airport commission in violation of the Brown Act since they provided only 25-hour notice to change meeting location and time? A: In general, California’s open meeting law, known as the Brown Act, requires that regular meetings be noticed by posting an agenda for the meeting at least 72 hours in advance. Gov’t Code

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A&A: Is It Legal To Share Public Documents Received From One School District With Another School District?

Q: Is it legal to forward documents obtained in a CPRA request regarding a teacher’s misconduct when previously employed by one school district to the superintendent and board members of the school district where the teacher is currently employed? Also, if a school district won’t reply to my CPRA request sent via email do you recommend sending again by certified mail to the superintendent and a school board member before hiring an attorney to help? A: With regard to your first question, public records obtained under the Public Records Act are just that: public. Thus, you are free to share public records,

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A&A: How Do I Access Decades-Old 911 Audios?

Q: How can I obtain 911 audios/reports from 1993 and 2006? A: The California Public Records Act (CPRA) requires public agencies to disclose public records unless some exemption applies.  Public records include “any writing containing information relating to the conduct of the public’s business prepared, owned, used or retained by any state or local agency.” Gov’t Code § 6252(e).  Note that the word “writing” as used in the CPRA does not only mean words on a page, but includes “every other means of recording upon any tangible thing any form of communication or representation, including letters, words, pictures, sounds, or

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A&A: Does a Member of a Public Body Have a First Amendment Claim if He or She is Punished for Speaking Out?

Q: I serve as a director on a public body–a Board of Directors. A majority of that Board recently voted to punish me because I have publicly expressed, as an individual citizen, views contrary to the majority. They said that once the Board has decided something, I should be silent if I disagreed. Was this unlawful, and do I have any recourse? A: It is not clear from your inquiry whether you as a Director are a public employee, or an elected official. Nevertheless, we can provide you with some general information as to how the First Amendment may apply

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A&A: How Can I Access Records From The California Department of Corrections Regarding High-Profile Offenders?

Q:  I need to obtain information from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) regarding several high-profile offenders, some of whom are deceased, for a project I am doing on several high-profile murder cases. All of the offenders are or were on Death Row at one point in time and several are deceased. What information can I obtain? A: The records you’re looking for from CDCR are likely available through the use of the California Public Records Act (“CPRA”).  Under the CPRA, public records — which include “any writing containing information relating to the conduct of the public’s business prepared,

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A&A: Local School Board President Banning Parents From Commenting On School’s Official Facebook Page

Q: A group of parents is being blocked by a local school board president from commenting on the Facebook page where he frequently discusses local school board issues. It is my understanding President Trump, Congressperson Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, elected officials in County Board of Supervisors seats and others have had courts rule against them for blocking citizens and they have been forced to reverse the action on various social media platforms because they were violating the citizens’ First Amendment right to comment on actions taken by government officials. Could you please let us know if we have recourse for this

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