Newark Unifed Sch. Dist. v. Super. Ct.Annotate this Case
Individuals requested documents under the California Public Records Act (Gov. Code, 6250) from Newark Unified School District. The District inadvertently included 100 documents that, the District contends, are subject to attorney-client or attorney work product privileges. Within hours of the release, the District sent e-mails asking for return of the documents. The recipients cited section 6254.5, contending that inadvertent release had waived the privileges. Under that statute, the disclosure of a document to the public waives any claim by an agency that the document is exempt from release. The District filed suit, seeking return or destruction of the documents. The trial court granted a temporary restraining order preventing dissemination, but ultimately agreed that section 6254.5 effected a waiver of confidentiality. The court of appeal reversed, finding that the legislative history demonstrates the intent to prevent public agencies from disclosing documents to some members of the public while asserting confidentiality as to others. Waiver as a result of an inadvertent release, while not necessarily inconsistent with that intent, was not within its contemplation. To harmonize section 6254.5 with Evidence Code 912, which has been construed not to effect a waiver of the privileges from an inadvertent disclosure, the court construed section 6254.5 not to apply to inadvertent release.