Rittiman v. a Public Utilities CommissionAnnotate this Case
Petitioner made Public Records Act (PRA) (Gov. Code 6251) requests seeking “all communications between” California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) President Batjer and the Governor’s staff, including “all documents, emails, or texts.” CPUC determined that the requested records were statutorily exempt from disclosure under the Governor’s correspondence exemption. Petitioner argued that “correspondence” must be narrowly confined to communications by letter. CPUC acknowledged receipt of his appeal. The next step in the appeals process required a draft “Resolution.” Petitioner notified CPUC that if a draft was not before it on April 22, he would seek judicial review. A CPUC attorney responded twice, apologizing and setting target dates,
Petitioner filed a mandamus proceeding. After remand, the court of appeal issued CPUC an order to show cause. In the meantime, CPUC denied the administrative appeal. Petitioner sent an e-mail, attaching an “Application for Rehearing.” This apparent filing effort was not in accordance with CPUC procedural rules. CPUC filed a return to the show-cause order with a memorandum requesting dismissal of the writ petition.
The court of appeal dismissed. Petitioner was not required to fully exhaust the administrative remedies set forth in the Public Utilities Code and in CPUC General Order to judicially challenge the denials. CPUC’s action on his administrative appeal did not render his writ proceeding moot. However, CPUC properly denied the PRA requests on the basis of the “Governor’s correspondence” exemption and/or the “deliberative process” privilege.