Sander v. State Bar of Cal.Annotate this Case
Plaintiffs requested that the State Bar of California provide them access to certain information contained in the State Bar's admissions database, including applicants' grade point averages, race or ethnicity, and bar exam scores. Plaintiffs sought the information to conduct research on racial and ethnic disparities in bar passage rates and law school grades. The State Bar rejected the request. Plaintiffs then filed a petition for writ of mandate in the superior court, seeking to compel the State Bar to provide the records. The trial court concluded that there was no legal basis for requiring disclosure of the admissions database and denied the petition without reaching any issues regarding the privacy of the applicants. The court of appeal reversed. The Supreme Court affirmed and remanded, holding that under the common law right of public access, the State Bar was required to provide access to the information contained in the admissions database if the information could be provided in a form that protected the privacy of applicants and if no countervailing interest outweighed the public's interest in disclosure.