League of Cal. Cities v. Super. Ct.Annotate this Case
Jan Goldsmith was the San Diego City Attorney. League of California Cities was an association of 473 California cities and their public officials, which, among other purposes, advocates to protect and restore local control for cities to provide for the public health, safety, and welfare of their residents. Real Party in Interest, San Diegans for Open Government (SDOG), submitted a request under the Public Records Act to the City of San Diego (the City) seeking "[a]ny and all e-mails sent to or from [Jan Goldsmith's personal e-mail account] . . . that pertain in any way to the official business of the City of San Diego." Among other records, the City asserted an exemption to the disclosure of e-mails between a purported legal assistant for the League and attorney members of the League on the grounds they were not public records because they did not concern city business, or were otherwise privileged. SDOG filed a petition for writ of mandate seeking declaratory and injunctive relief against the City and Goldsmith to compel disclosure of the e-mails. In a minute order, the trial court directed the City to provide SDOG with a privilege log identifying the documents not produced, along with the legal objection for not producing the documents. After considering the parties' briefing, the trial court declined to perform an in camera review of certain challenged e-mails. The court found the City failed to meet its burden of demonstrating that the e-mails were privileged or exempt under the Act, and ordered the City to produce the e-mails by a certain date. The League filed the instant petition for a peremptory writ of mandate or prohibition in the first instance, or an alternative writ or order to show cause seeking to vacate that part of the court's order requiring disclosure of the e-mails. The Court of Appeal concluded the term "a party," as used in the Act, was not limited to an actual party to the action. Accordingly, the nonparty here had standing to file the instant petition challenging the trial court's order. The Court further concluded the trial court erred by not conducting an in camera review of the documents as requested by the party asserting the documents were exempt from disclosure. Accordingly, we grant the petition and remand the matter for further proceedings.