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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 May I Obtain A Transcript Of Disciplinary Actions Concerning My Son In Prison?

Q: I would like to obtain a copy of my son’s disciplinary action while incarcerated in a California state prison. I have not been able to find anyone in the California Department of Corrections who is responsive to my need. Perhaps there exists some legal requirement for the Dept of Corrections to provide the documentation needed. Can you help? A: Under the California Public Records Act (CPRA), public records – which 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 regardless of physical form or characteristics,” Cal. Gov’t Code

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A&A: Can a School Board Restrict Recording of a Meeting to a Designated Area?

Q: Can a school board allow the public to record the meeting only from a certain designated area in the back of the room? Or can a person record from their seat outside the designated area if they are not disrupting the meeting at any time? A: Cal. Gov. Code § 54953.5 provides: “Any person attending an open and public meeting of a legislative body of a local agency shall have the right to record the proceedings with an audio or video recorder or a still or motion picture camera in the absence of a reasonable finding by the legislative

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A&A: School District Delays CPRA Response Beyond the Hearing Date For Which Documents Are Needed

Q: I filed a public record request with three school districts. The documents requested would provide additional information and insight to aid a special education student with whom the districts are currently engaged in due-process hearings. I received an initial reply extending their reply for 15 days. In an effort of good faith, I did not protest the extension. Now I have received a second response, again extending their deadline for another month, past the date of the relevant hearing. This is not standard turnover for records, having filed with other districts on similar matters and I believe their extension

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A&A: Despite New Laws, My Request for Police Body Camera Footage Has Been Repeatedly Denied

Q: In light of SB 1421 and AB 748, I submitted a request to the city and the police department for the body camera footage and internal affairs investigation report of an incident that happened at my home involving the discharge of a firearm at a person (me) by a peace officer and the use of extreme excessive force. My requests were denied by both the city and the police department. I have been told by the police department that the body camera footage I requested doesn’t exist, altough by law they are required to retain the footage for a minimum of

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A&A: I was stopped from taking photos of court records with my phone to save costs. What can I do?

Q: Recently the organization I work for had submitted and received a Public Records Act Request of all individuals who had been charged with gang enhancements. However, there is specific information we also need but must pull the Superior Court case file to obtain such as: age, race, location, etc. These documents are electronic so we are unable to use our scanner to make copies without incurring costs. The only other way of obtaining these items is by paying per copy. This would cost $5,000. To save on those costs, I used my telephone to capture the images of documents

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A&A: How can I Access Information On a Parolee in California

Q: I’m trying to find out how to access a record from the parole office to determine the date a certain parolee absconded. Can you help? Is there a sample letter for making a request? A: While I did not locate any law directly addressing the California Public Records Act and specific details within parole records (such as date of absconsion), the presumption is that records held by government agencies are subject to disclosure under the PRA unless some exemption applies. For information regarding arrestees, Police are required to release “[t]he full name and occupation of every individual arrested by the agency,

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