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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: Struggling To Access Court Records in Sacramento Divorce Proceedings

Q: I am struggling to get the court records from my divorce proceeding. What should I do? A:  With respect to your court record, you should be able to access this record from the court where your case in pending (which sounds like Sacramento Superior Court).  There is a presumptive First Amendment right of access to court records.  Even if there’s some reason why your case has been sealed, it would seem that you, as a litigant, should be able to see the contents of the court file.  You might want to contact a family law attorney in the Sacramento area

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A&A: Trying To Access Autopsy Records Of Mass Shooting Victims

Q: I am having difficulty obtaining the autopsy records from the reported mass shooting in Thousand Oaks on November 7-8, 2018. My understanding is Autopsy Records are public records in the State of California. How do I force the Medical Examiner’s hand? I’ve been asking about these since November. They don’t even cite an exemption from the PRA. A: The California Public Records Act (CPRA) sets forth the rules and procedures governing information disclosures made by public agencies, including coroner’s offices. Public records are open to inspection by members of the public unless they are exempt from disclosure by express

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A&A: Are Emails Between Political Officials and Third Parties a Public Record in California?

Q: I recently tried to access email communications between a current elected city official and a former elected city official over a local project that’s being funded by public funds. The city responded to my requests, but only with publicly accessible information, essentially amounting to a refusal. Reasons included: the information in these emails was designated confidential and proprietary by a third party, publishing the emails could result in copyright infringement, and the emails include pre-decisional documents like drafts. To what extent are email exchanges between political officials and third parties subject to California Public Records Act requests, considering they “relate[s]

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A&A: I Have Been Blocked from My State Senator’s Instagram Account. What Can I Do?

Q: My state senator has blocked me from making comments or accessing his Instagram account, which is his official Instagram account for the Office of State Senator, and it is clearly a violation of First Amendment rights as a government official, and I need help getting them to reverse the action or sue this senator. A: A federal court in New York found that President Trump’s blocking of certain followers on Twitter was a violation of the First Amendment. Government officials create a “public forum” when using social media to communicate with members of the public, and therefore a very

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A&A: How Do I Request 911 Call Transcripts?

Q: I have requested a transcript of the call to the California Highway Patrol officer that came from the 911 service and dispatched the CHP officer to the accident location. How can I obtain this record? A: Records of 911 calls are public records under the California Public Records Act and, therefore, must be disclosed unless a specific exemption to disclosure applies.  If you made a written request, the agency must determine whether the records are disclosable within 10 days of your request, and “promptly notify” you, in writing, if it will make the records available.  If not, it must

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A&A: Is it a First Amendment violation when Twitter Suspends My Account for “Hate Speech”

Q: I’ve had a Twitter account for at least five years. My account was suspended recently for supposed “hate” speech, and has now been permanently closed. I appealed the decision without success. While I have written sharply worded tweets, I deny that any of them were “hate” speech, and in general believe that it’s a subjective question anyway. I’m a frequent critic of Israel, and I think my tweets on that score were probably the real reason my account was closed, though I never got a definitive answer. If the 1st Amendment Coalition would represent me against Twitter, I’d be

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