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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: Emailed Public Comments Were Not Read as Promised at Board of Supervisors Meeting Closed By Coronavirus

Q: I requested that two statements be read on the public record at a County Board of Supervisors meeting. This board met in spite of the fact that the meeting was closed to the public due to Coronavirus pandemic, and they stipulated that emailed statements would be read and failed to do so. What is my recourse, if any? A: Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Newsom issued executive orders N-25-20 and N-29-20, which temporarily suspend any Brown Act requirements “expressly or impliedly requiring the physical presence of members, the clerk or other personnel of the body, or of the public as a condition of participation in or

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A&A: Can I Obtain A Copy of A Zoning Complaint Filed Against Me?

Q: If someone filed a complaint with the county zoning office about my property can I obtain a copy of the complaint to determine who filed this complaint? A: Yes – the document is public record subject to the California Public Records Act (the “CPRA”).  In addition, the CPRA applies to all local agencies, including school districts and any board or commission of a city, county or other political subdivision.  See Gov’t Code section 6252(b).  We typically recommend submitting a written request to the agency from which you are seeking records, as this will compel a written response. Written CPRA requests are fairly

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A&A: How Can I Request All Audio and Video of My Arrest?

Q: I was arrested for DUI three months ago. Since then the DMV has dropped the case against me because I had 0.00 BAC.The officer believed me to be under the influence. I adamantly denied his accusations but none the less he arrested me.Now the probable cause is what concerns me. I am being told numerous different reasons why I was originally pulled over.I believe that obtaining the body camera footage (as well as the dash camera and audio from inside the vehicle) will be useful for me as I near the court date. Officer was even talking on his

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A&A: Former Employer Blocked My Twitter Account Stopping Me From Accessing COVID-19 Info

Q: I was terminated earlier this year from a job on a social media team at an entity that was publicly funded. Despite never sending a Direct Message, or a Tweet to or about the organization, I was blocked from those apps at a time when important COVID-19 information was being released to the general public. Because of the block placed on my Twitter account, I was unable to see this vital information. A public records request will show that I did not send them any messages nor did I Tweet anything about them. My question: can I file a

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A&A: My High School Took Down My Online Profile Picture. Does this Violate My First Amendment Rights?

Q: I am currently a high school student and I am also a minor. Due to the COVID-19 crisis, our school is online and we are using a website called Office 365 and Teams, which is provided by the school. I have changed my profile picture on those websites to an LGBT flag being burned. A student complained about my profile picture and a teacher told me to take it down and I respectfully told her I was not going to take it down because that would be in violation of my First Amendment rights. She notified administration and administration

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A&A: Do I Have a Right to Remain Anonymous During Public Meetings Held on Zoom During the Pandemic?

Q: I’ve attended some meetings of a local government in California recently and they’ve started using Zoom to conduct the meetings because of the local COVID-19 public health orders. I’ve set up my Zoom sign-on to identify me as “John Q. Public,” which as you can probably guess isn’t my real name. But they do know who I am. However, at the beginning of the Zoom meetings the district secretary has gotten into the habit of stating a list of all the attendees and she frequently identifies me by my real full name — not as John Q. Public —

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