California publishers gear up for battle over public records access

By  , Voice of OC | California news publishers from across the state this week voiced strong support for an unprecedented joint legal and journalistic effort to make police misconduct records open to public review during their annual Sacramento capital conference.

Their action comes just as Attorney General Xavier Becerra halts the release of any misconduct records pending the outcomes of court cases where police unions are trying to block public release of documents.

Norberto Santana Jr.The battle began after state legislators adopted SB 1241 last fall, which amends the California Public Records Act to allow for inspection of three select areas of police misconduct records; including use of force, sexual assault and lying while on duty.

Police unions across the state fought the bill all the way through the legislature and once adopted, attempted to immediately contest it before the Supreme Court, which refused to hear the case. Since then, police unions went into local courts across the state to block releases of records.

A strong coalition of journalists and publishers have, in turn, filed lawsuits throughout California opposing police union efforts to keep such misconduct records secret.

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