First Amendment Coalition v. Super. Ct.Annotate this Case
In the case brought before the Court of Appeal of the State of California, First Appellate District, Division Three, the petitioners, First Amendment Coalition and KQED Inc., sought public access to certain records in the possession of the Attorney General and the Department of Justice, relating to peace officers and custodial officers. The records primarily pertained to instances of use of force, discharge of firearms, and sustained findings of dishonesty or sexual assault by an officer, which were considered nonconfidential under section 832.7(b) of the Penal Code.
However, the Department withheld certain records citing exemptions under the California Public Records Act (CPRA) due to other state laws prohibiting their disclosure. The petitioners filed a motion for judgment compelling disclosure of these withheld documents but were denied by the trial court.
The court, applying rules of statutory construction, concluded that section 832.7(b) of the Penal Code supersedes state law disclosure exemptions that conflict with its decree that records within its scope are not confidential and shall be made available to the public. As such, the court ordered a directive for the respondent court to vacate its judgment to the extent it denies the petitioners’ motion for judgment based on Government Code section 11183, which prohibits the disclosure of subpoenaed records. In all other respects, the petition for writ of mandate was denied.