Articles, Blog

Force of Law | BONUS | Panel on police misconduct and transparency in California

November 8, 2019


Hey everyone it’s Laurel we’re working
on episode three of force of law and it should be ready in June but in the
meantime I just hosted a panel discussion that I thought you might be
interested in so I’m posting it here as a bonus episode we had a lively
discussion about police misconduct and transparency in California focused on a
new state law that’s opening up public access to police records for the first
time in 40 years I recorded this on May 13 2019 in Sacramento please check it
out good morning everyone we’re gonna get started be respectful of people’s
lunch hours thank you so much for coming I’m Laurel Rosen Hall I’m a reporter
with town matters and I’ve been covering the State Capitol for several years how
matters is a non-profit news organization that covers California
politics and policy and we’re bringing you this event today together with the
First Amendment coalition David Schneider is their executive director
and the First Amendment Coalition fights for press freedom and access to
government information government transparencies so we’re here today to
talk about the changes in state law that are opening up public access to records
about police misconduct and our conversation today is really going to
focus on bills that were signed into law last year that are taking effect this
year and we’re not so much going to talk about bills that are currently moving
through the legislature right now but before we get to that I do want to
quickly mention that obviously policing issues are again a very big deal in the
state capitol again this year as many of you know the legislature is debating two
proposals that aim to reduce the number of police shootings in California and
one of them by Assemblymember Shirley Weber would set a tougher legal standard
for police to use deadly force making it easier for easier to prosecute
police when they kill and I’m personally following this issue in this legislation
all year long with a podcast and narrative series called force of law you
have a sticker here and I’m blending legal and political and now
with the stories of Californians who are living in the aftermath of police
shootings I’m mentioning that not only to make a plug that’s part of the reason
by I hope you will subscribe and and listen to what we’re doing but also
because I do think this legislation kind of in some ways sets the table for the
conversation we’re gonna have about the fall out of last year’s legislation
which opened up the police records those bills last year that we are talking
about today marked a real change in tenor in the Capitol before that the
legislature rarely crossed the police and this was a case in in passing these
bills where the legislature did do something that the police were largely
opposed to so part of what I want the conversation to kind of eventually come
around to is whether there is a larger shift happening in the state Capitol on
these policing issues is there a shift in power and a shift in priorities or if
these transparency laws that passed last year are anomalies so I just say that as
a kind of to set the frame for the conversation I’ll introduce the
panelists and then we’ll jump right into the conversation David Schneider next to
me is the executive director of the First Amendment coalition he was a
newspaper reporter before he became a lawyer and has represented many media
outlets before joining the First Amendment Coalition two years ago next
to him is David P Mascagni an attorney who represents law enforcement unions
he’s the founder and Managing Partner of the mist agony whole state law firm he’s
tried hundreds of cases including actions before the United States Supreme
Court and testifies in front of the legislature on issues involving peace
officers labor unions injured workers and consumer litigations
next to him is Tom peel who’s an investigative reporter with the Mercury
News and the East Bay Times also a lecturer at UC Berkeley Graduate School
of Journalism my alma mater he was part of the team that won a Pulitzer Prize in
2017 for covering the fire at the ghostship warehouse and
Oakland and one intriguing note on his bio is that before moving to California
in 2000 he had several newspaper jobs on the East Coast including a stint
covering Atlantic City in the 1990s where he often but it heads with a
casino owner named Donald Trump and at the end of the table is state senator
nancy skinner a democrat from berkeley who chairs the public safety committee
in this in the state senate and also the public safety budget committee she
served six years in the assembly before being elected to the Senate in 2016 and
Skinner is the author of Senate bill 14 21 which is the records law we’re going
to be discussing today so the measure changes the Public Records Act and says
the police can have access to police records the public can have access to
police records in three situations when an officer fires a gun or kill someone
when there’s a confirmed case of sexual assault by an officer and when there’s a
confirmed case of an officer lying on duty this is an idea that the
legislature had grappled with in years past and had been so strongly opposed it
never even got a floor vote so my first question for Senator Skinner is what
changed last year why do you think this bill passed last year that had failed in
the past it’s lying in relationship to be there
interfering with the witness for tampering with evidence and I clarify
those because the three categories that were just described are categories that
I think if we were to indict a pole or this you know man-on-the-street
interview we find that the public absolutely uniformly feels they have a
right to that they have the right to know the circumstances in which an
officer uses heavenly horse’ they have a right to know if an officer was
convicted of sexual assault or not convicted scuse me internally found to
have to have corrected myself because internally found to have committed
sexual assault on the job the reason I corrected myself is because now that
working 21 is available to us the journalists in the insula area got
records around the wrists Bangkok who apps who actually had committed sexual
assault on the job but I never and there was internal investigative reports it
showed that you’ve done it multiple times and now the DA is looking at one
of the deviation for each artist anyway backing up so so basically public
there’s other things that won’t be often consider police misconduct that were not
included in the law and past attempts so senator Leno had carry at least twice
bills to try to break california’s 40-year lock on all access to public
records senator Gloria with marrow had tried
various other people in the past drug sometimes their bills were brighter so
when we thought about this bill and it was the newspaper Association in
you were the partners on it we thought okay let’s let’s go a little less fried
let’s really look at those categories of things of the totally has a right to
know about so I say that because I think that helps that helped our bill and yeah
additionally the fact that other legislators tried to bust open this
four-year super seat also helped if I were the first one to afraid to do this
I don’t think I we got it through so past attempts really do help the
conversation and then the fact that we there’s so statistically there are not
more officer-involved shootings but we know about the more because of body
cameras of officers because of people on the street capturing it on their own
phones we just know much much more and so it seems like they are constant now
they’re way more frequent than they should be but they it’s not necessarily
that there’s more it’s just that the public is so much more aware and the
public awareness and these high-profile cases whether it’s like Oscar Grant in
my district or the young man in Sacramento who is in his grandmother’s
backyard last year or any other number of these high-profile cases have really
brought the public to kind of like you know this needs to be looked at that
does impact the legislature now there’s an impact the legislature enough to
offset officer opposition not necessarily
sooo and I want to welcome anyone to jump in on these questions some of them
are targeted for specific people but if you guys have thoughts jump in at the
last minute the police chiefs removed their opposition to that bill and I’m
just wondering if if that was critical in getting enough votes for it to pass
because you didn’t have law enforcement entirely opposed you had one segment of
law enforcement that was neutral there are a lot of factors that help to do
I can’t credit really it was unique to last year and that was the high-profile
shooting and Stefan Clark that one Clark the high-profile shooting of Stefan
Clark the fact that Assemblymember where Weber was carrying the bill which is
carrying again this year to change these rules which law enforcement is even more
adamantly opposed to than records and the fact that he narrowed it and then
the police chiefs law enforcement not being uniform block in opposition so
police chiefs did give some people cover including your pumpkins so the
Republicans are a little bit less responsive to crap they’re not opposed
for our enemies but from their point of view that’s on the Union and so the
Chiefs becoming pretty bill help definitely help get Republican votes
David miss Dagny why do you think the bill passed last year after previously
failing I think that it was poorly drafted by the ACLU with very deceptive
language that it was sold to a number of legislators and that when the Chiefs of
Police went through their opposition they did that because corporate power in
California has changed it’s no longer likey
it’s no longer big businesses its municipal corporate power and there’s a
job chain or a job line where people get on a board
revisers or they get on a water board and then they Water District Lord and
then they promote to the state capital and then they’re in this assembly then
they’re in the Senate and then they become federal politicians and
unfortunately Chiefs of Police are not answerable to the people they just
aren’t they’re answerable to cities which are dominated and controlled by
the majority votes on the City Council I doubt seriously that they understood the
defects in the bill for instance the bill itself says that any dishonesty
related to an investigation of misconduct it says nothing about
excluding coffee breaks or anything else there are many many areas in this bill
that are highly unclear a sustained finding is by an agency somebody that
works for the same city that has control over the chief and hires the chief and
believe me this is big business city managers are paid in the hundreds of
thousands of dollars chiefs are paid a lot of money and I think that dynamic
overrode the bill and got the Chiefs to pull their support and for the record
there’s not enough Republicans in the State Capitol to do anything the issue
in in the State Capitol today is whether or not moderates will come aboard with
sensible legislation I don’t think this bill was ever betted they it says
literally in it that any state law the confidentiality is waived
I doubt seriously that anybody knew when they voted for this bill
they were waiving the privacy rights and and still today people have privacy
rights there are individuals that have rights
if Chiefs of Police were accountable to the people and voted into the office
they have never supported this just look at with this bill waste when
it says notwithstanding any other state law mark sees law the right of victims
passed by the people attorney-client privilege those records are full of
opinions by people like myself city attorneys County Attorney’s work
product investigations my office goes to shooting scenes with the district
attorney it’s a complete myth and untruth to say
that officer-involved shootings are not investigated they’re investigated when
they happen thoroughly by lots of people with impartiality but one thing that the
legislators don’t know that the law enforcement people and people like
myself do know is force science and what’s pretty but let’s just go through
what else mental detention records now open to the
public elder abuse records juvenile records child abuse records DMV
information which it’s actually a misdemeanor to release criminal
histories think about this the person involved is going to have his rap sheet
now made available people’s rap sheets are now available as a result of this
law victim information sexual assault victim victims information is available
as well as human trafficking victims the laws poorly drafted severely and totally
needs a revision and for the record law enforcement police unions are in
favor of transparency and I can tell you personally because I defend and
prosecute 1983 civil rights violations the number word defending has gone boom
down with body-worn cameras we’ll get to that in a bit
that’s an important point in quickly that interesting and that the police
units who did not support the oil tankers made whitey
but they have now brought lawsuits to challenge to build in courts up and down
with the state and the courts that have actually held hearings on the merits
have upheld the bill but interestingly the challenge to the bill was none of
the items that speaker just referenced so there weren’t anything about the
various aspects are considered expressed as poorly drafted they were all about
whether the bill was quote unquote retroactive or not so seems to me if
these these terrible clause in it why didn’t the law enforcement sue on that
well I can answer that very simply there were a number of retroactive challenge
challenges and ask any lawyer it’s a complete misrepresentation to say that a
decision came out of the first district in the Contra Costa case on its merits
it’s a writ of super seus which every lawyer on this table knows it’s
different than a processed appeal with briefing to find out what went on in
that case you have to dig down to the court record and most importantly in the
brady tip case which I can find the citation of my office has filed an
appeal raising every single one of these issues and most prominently the Marsy’s
law okay but since we are now talking about the lawsuits it’s important to
point out that the the police unions have lost all of them right the police
unions who filed directly on the issue of retroactivity which is highly nuanced
in this case of this bill because there’s retroactivity of its application
and I couldn’t possibly in the time a lot of explain retroactive application
but then there’s retroactivity in terms of when the request for the records were
made and so far there have been injunctions granted and
injunctions dissolved I think there may be one case in Ventura County where
there still exists and in a standing injunction but there has been no
breathing on the merit no appeal in the normal yeah I’m gonna bring David
Schneider and arias to you there is this also a sovereign state level that is
important can you talk about that yes so my organization that was pretty deeply
involved in many of the cases that were filed by the police unions around the
state that they filed in something like 12 counties and the only one of those in
which an order issued that concluded that the bill did not apply directly
that it only applied to records after January 1st was Ventura County and that
matter was that order was not there was no reasoning about the retroactivity
question and the court has since taken that under submission and I expect the
court will probably follow suit with the other dozen or so courts that address
the issue and conclude that the bill applies to records irrespective of when
they were created so the police hands went in all around the state and they’ve
lost in in every one of those cases again with the exception of Ventura
which I think will soon become yeah so there are there were two buckets of
lawsuits that sprang out of SP 14 any one the first bucket are the ones that I
just described where the police unions went in and affirmatively sought an
order from the court saying thou shalt not release records created before
January 1st the second category or bucket of
lawsuits were case Public Records Act cases brought by organizations like mine
or by the news publications to get agencies to force the disclosure of
records under 14 21 and there were three of those that I’m aware of one was filed
against the City of Berkeley one was filed against the
Sacramento Sheriff’s Office and the third was filed against the state
attorney general’s office as far as I know the Berkley lawsuit has I believe
it is settled the Sacramento sheriff seeing the
writing on the wall has I believe represented that he will be releasing
records that lawsuit I think therefore if it hasn’t resolved yet will be
resolving soon and then the third is the AG lawsuit which my organization brought
we sued the attorney general’s office for its failure to release records as
it’s required to under Senate bill 1421 and the Attorney General’s argument is
odd they acknowledge that 1421 applies to records that were created any day
they don’t by the retroactivity argument in fact they acknowledge that the
records the records created before January first would have to be released
what their contention is is that the courts the issue needs to be resolved in
the courts before the Attorney General the chief law enforcement officer of the
state can opine about what the law means and it’s our position that that issue
has been settled and it’s an it’s odd to say the least for the state’s highest
law enforcement officer to be saying I’m not going to interpret the law until the
court tells me how to interpret it especially in a context where Court
after Court after Court has said granted these were superior courts but Court
after Court after Court has said that the law applies to records irrespective
of the date of their creation so what timeline should we expect for any
resolution on that state level the attorney the suit against the Attorney
General is often we have a hearing on that I believe it’s the 17th and so the
court could conceivably issue an order requiring the Attorney General to
release records as early as the hearing it probably won’t happen at or out
immediately after the hearing but I would expect an order coming some within
a few weeks okay great all right I’d like to bring Tom
into the conversation because he hasn’t had a chance yet and so Tom as the
reporter here at the table could you talk about how journalists were
preparing after these after the records law was
signed and you know we knew it was going to take effect on January 1st what were
journalists around the state doing to prepare for that change we started kind
of individually the young man sitting the third row there graduate student of
mine graduates this weekend who on about 1 minute after midnight on January 1st
push a button this and out four or five hundred requests so we were I think a
lot of journalists were prepared for this put work into it for most of the
cemetry be ready to go away after the records not knowing where the
retroactivity question would eventually go you know there’s a lot of bluster
from the unions that they were going to shut this down and that obviously is
that happened and we’ve since form larger coalition’s by news organization
in the other times radio stations other newspapers we have
a request out to every law enforcement agency in the state for five years of
records sometimes going further back by the individual officer the production
has been spotty at best you know we all know that records I’ve got holes in it
and without a firm deadline of production we’re seeing you know a lot
of slow walking of documents a lot of agencies holding back saying oh we’re
waiting for the Attorney General wait for clear direction from the force
there’s clear direction the courts in the second District opinion now but
there are still there major police departments and sheriff’s departments
that have not produced a single record yet and we’re still being squishy on
when they’re going to do that did you want to add something I’d like to point
out that first of all of the very questions of privilege being
and you can hold the case yourself is the association of Los Angeles deputies
versus a Superior Court of Health of Los Angeles Los Angeles County Sheriff’s
Department my office filed an amicus brief and contrary to what’s been said
at this table there is an appeal at the Supreme Court which will give definition
to the waiver of the privileges which are you can read the bill yourself and
see it’s notwithstanding any other state law that these records are disclosed
secondly the question of retroactivity has many facets to it it also is an
appeal on appeal at the Supreme Court in this amicus brief because the public
employee has a property right to their job in their representation and the
reputation a huge problem with this bill is there’s no final decision by a court
or a lawful body that can render the decision which triggers the disclosure
and that decision is made by Chiefs of Police administrators and people
unfamiliar with the law I suspect that the real wave of litigation where this
bill goes down will be the people human beings victims human trafficking victims
rape victims when they sue for privacy right violations because somebody has
sacrificed their individual right to privacy
for the collective right of let’s be honest
big business news to get records in a way that doesn’t protect their interests
okay well on that point let’s hear from Tom about the records you’re getting are
they violating the privacy of these victims no I mean we’re getting records
that are frankly I don’t reproduction somebody use your sensor
which is far more accurate what’s going on we’re not getting the names of
victims we’ve got cops pulling people over and saying hey baby give me someone
I’ll let you go we’ve got cops having sex with minors
we’ve got cops having sex on duty we’re not getting the names of those women and
no responsible news organization would use them anyway because they’re victims
so there’s this is completely having been through I mean we have a lot of
records and we have a lot more to go but having been through these I haven’t
seen anything that comes close to any to a privacy issue at all involving someone
who was a victim of police violence or sexual assault okay there’s a broader
context here that I think would be may be useful for the discussion and that is
that the exception for the me put it this way it’s a longtime secrecy of
police misconduct records it’s really an exception in California law and it’s an
exception nationally so in California law for decades it’s been clear that
public employee misconduct had to be disclosed pursuant to the Public Records
Act and there’s multiple appellate decisions that have established that
fact but there whenever I would explain this to a reporter I would say unless
it’s a police officer the police officers had a special carve out in
essence for transparency when it comes to misconduct and so concerns about
victim names being released or other privacy interest being compromised I
think maybe overstated that this is something that the courts and government
agencies have worked out for decades under the Public Records Act and I’m
confident that it’ll work out and it sounds like based on the records that
Tom is getting and some of the records that we’ve gotten it had it is working
out such that the information that is disclosed is the information that people
are entitled to under California law and thing more than that and just to tie
this off I mean California these kind of records in varying to varying degrees
are available in most states California is one of a relatively small we were did
you want to there are a number of ways in which California law has kind of
special carve outs for police and reporters who come from other states I
often get calls from reporters saying what do mean I can’t get a police report
every state I’ve ever worked in as a reporter you can get a police well not
in California I think for years the police unions have had a lot of power in
Sacramento and Senator Skinner might be able to would be able to speak to he’s
better than I could I don’t know whether that weather last year is a signal that
they’re kind of grip on the on the legislature is loosening or whether it
was just a fluke last year but there are a number of carve outs in the Public
Records Act that go to police officers to law enforcement that other forms of
public employment employment are not entitled to you so the other law that
was changed last year has to do with the they release a body cam footage and that
one’s going into effect on July 1st it’s assembly bill seven four eight by
Assemblyman Phil ting and that requires departments release footage of most
officer-involved shootings and other serious uses of force within 45 days
that one was also signed into law last year after multiple failed attempts to
pass a bill regulating the release of body cam footage but it turns out that
releasing video footage is expensive and complicated
and so I’m just wondering if Tom you want to speak to you know what what
folks who are seeking these things are facing in terms of fees we see I mean
it’s clear that departments are using the fees to just to block access they’re
coming up with there’s some California there was a few more than $100,000
proposed yes San Diego for records we’re seeing we’re seeing the city of Richmond
try to pass an ordinance or introduced in order this is a couple of weeks ago
they were going to charge two hundred and eighty two dollars an hour for
redaction of sense of these records and they got the City Council got shut down
by it people were saying people were bad citizens were mad about it they were
arguing that this is simply a way of impeding news organizations and
individual citizens from getting their records what what’s going on is there’s
a case about in Hayward the National Lawyers Guild is that the Supreme Court
now and that gets directly to the issue about how much cities and agencies can
exploit the Public Records Act with these ridiculous fees simply to keep
access with the records so it’s gonna be a while together yes I thank you for the
opportunity well first of all the word censored in the word reduction are two
entirely different meanings and I applaud any law enforcement departments
that are voluntarily redacting names done for this bill somebody and it’s
going to be either a news agency or the one person who is kept anonymous by the
bill which is the complaint against the officer I can tell you that those
complaints are largely criminal defense attorneys and I don’t fault them because
they’re doing the best they can to represent their clients and somebody is
going to make the argument that this bill makes all of these records open
and I have yet to see the records that my colleague to my left is referring to
but I’ll bet you if he’s calling them censored somebody’s thinking about
getting more based on the literal language of the bill which needs to
clean up again law enforcement is not against transparency there against
clarity of law I mean there for clarity of law they’re in favor of clarity of
law Senator Skinner do you see the need for new legislation to tackle either the
cost impediments journalists are facing or any other related issues here California’s Public Records Act allows
for the agency use releasing records to charge the requester for copying and it’s also explicit that these are
nominal charges and it’s designed so that the agency cannot use the charge as
a way to and when San Diego and I forget exactly what’s jurisdiction whether it’s
the county or the city who is the county okay when they propose to charge this
extraordinarily high amount and there was obviously lots of outcry and lots of
articles and such the agency quickly pulled back
I don’t think yet we need clean up because so far the agencies have been
the public pressure has has suffice if we start to see a really serious pattern
then I obviously would look at that but insofar I mean you know nothing is
perfect but so far they’re lost words okay and in my own district
Oscar transman we now has records can I make a point on
that now we know 10 years later and this is an argument about why that why this
privacy just simply has been a bad law for years 10 years after our grandpa
shot his family now knows that the officer who killed him
had six years of forced violations coming up in the months before that
clearly was a problem officer they also know a video that wasn’t allowed at
trial showed him that looking at his gun reaching for the gun several times in
the incident that happened on the platform and the fight and so forth it
wasn’t a mistake on the Taser that seems really clear now so I mean this gets to
serious issues about what these records are going to show on officer Jews and
and frankly the kind of intellectual gymnastics somebody’s take in order to
find a way to not bring an administrative action on a police
officer and so that’s I think one of the big reasons wet apartments are still
pushing back and making it difficult to get these records and why we’re gonna
have a long drag out of this Frank okay well I’d like to pop back to the fees
there’s two sets of fees there’s the copying fees and there’s the redaction
fees and the redaction fees are what is being now characterized as censorship
and I’m actually happy to hear the senator say that the bill wasn’t
intended to apply as it’s literally written that’s in my view a big step
toward some basis for a cleanup of the bill but the redaction fees are where
the problem is going to come in and what it’s affecting is the bargaining by
police unions with departments over in staffing and use of resources
dedicated to law enforcement to redact the records so that they do protect the
numerous rights that I’ve set forth that are waived in this bill now the fact
that my colleague to the left has not experienced it but has characterized the
redactions as censorship really should raise the antennas on where is this
going to eventually go into litigation I’d like to ask one last question of
Senator Skinner and then we’ll open it up for all of you to ask questions so
going back to sort of the question I raised at the beginning of the
conversation looking at these two laws that changed that were passed last year
the end the current debate in Sacramento big picture do you feel like there is a
larger shift happening at the State Capitol when it comes to police
influence and and police getting their way or or do you feel like the
transparency laws are anomalies which which way do you think why probably
wouldn’t characterize the question that way in that look law enforcement is
respected in the Capitol and we know they do it extremely important job in
our communities and every day a law enforcement officer puts his uniform on
or animorphs their own they are putting their own lives at risk their own lives
are at risk so there I I do not think that or rather I think the legislators
respect for the job of law enforcement is it’s still intact but I think what
we’re seeing is that the legislature is more aware and more responsive to these
legit issues that the public has raised around
use of force and now with the records seeing other activity I mean I call me
naive but I did not expect to have the dominant records that are been released
today to show officers who basically committed sexual assault on the job and
it was never reported to live forever have suffered the way you or I would if
we committed sexual assault and they in some cases yes they were let go but not
even terminated and so there this misconduct was even brought to the next
their next hiring wouldn’t even have had to have disclosed this and I think that
is outrageous so it definitely shows the need for sensor no sometime is a great
disinfectant and I think that many of my colleagues in the legislature are
hopeful that now that these type of incidents will be released to the public
and to news or to anybody to city managers to DA’s to anyone that the law
enforcement agencies themselves will be more they will police themselves better
now on the use of force we will see what the legislature does but I think that
the legislature is has a new appreciation and new understanding of
that our existing use of force law is inadequate for the circumstances that
we’re facing today my colleague has the microphone so if you have a question
please raise your hand and Trevor will bring it to you I don’t know that’s a question maybe
more of a comment you know you’re talking about the fees could you state
your name please my name is Tracy Smith I’m the mother of
Cesar Cruz who was killed in a mine shot 15 times in the back by five police
officers while he was still strapped in a seatbelt I requested the records they
responded that I would have to pay a three thousand dollar deposit and they
were going to charge me $80 an hour to get the records so I started seeing they
said I can go ahead and see them privately but it’s fill none or public
so this is why this is important well the five police officers are shot killed
my son Joey Phil two more young men after my son and they’re still on duty
and you talk about brown sheets about police officers that’s the first thing
they do when they kill somebody that’s the first thing they do they kill them
and then they kill their character and their integrity by putting out there
rupture so why shouldn’t we know about the law enforcement rap sheet also does
anyone want to respond I have just the point on it on the theists just to add
some clarity to the discussion so the California Public Records Act allows
agencies to charge the direct cost of duplication is the phrase and so that
typically means you know 10 cents a page five cents a page there you the agencies
may not charge for redaction for the time it takes to redaction with one kind
of exception and this is the case that’s now before the California Supreme Court
that Tom mentioned so in the context of video or audio the police Union argument
is that so there’s a section of California Public Records Act dealing
with electronic records and it says that with electronic records where an agency
has to do certain manipulation it may charge for the costs of doing that
manipulation the police position is that redacting audio or video tape falls into
that electronic data manipulation and therefore can be
charged for my organization’s position would be that redacting videotape is
just like weird acting records it they can’t charge for the time that it takes
to do that if an agency has to go through a thousand boxes of right of
paper and have somebody sit down and hand redact it they don’t get to charge
for that time and that I think it’s been clear and California law for a long time
so that’s in questions in court right now the question about the electronic
records audio/video files and whether they can charge for the time okay great
is there another question in the audience I thought I saw one over there we want to talk about transparency transparent well from 2014 until SB 1420
one became long I’ve been living in a hell for five years not knowing why I’m
going to instead I recently heard 22nd viewed what the officers did to unbundle
and it traumatized me all over again I lost him twice I needed answers I have
a port I kind of son was born who’s growing up without his father and to
this day I still don’t have everything they’re still denying me some of the
records they’re still making me wait after five years of hell of not knowing
I have a right to know I need to know why my son doesn’t have a father anymore
and officers need to be held responsible because they right away want to
criminalize you have nothing to hide they shouldn’t be fighting these bills
you want to enforce the law you have to obey the law also and you have to set a
good example I live in hell every day and I’m here to fight and I thank
Senator Skinner for doing this because this is a step in the right
direction they don’t know I should have to live the rest of their life in trauma
because an officer says he’s afraid for his life and then they cover up what
they do like me for five years I have no clue what happened they couldn’t on a
gag order they hid it from me her bill allowed me to have it so
transparency was not Oh was not available officers have never been
transparent it was I would have known what happened five years ago not five
years later Thank You Laurie other comments or questions yeah – even I have people know people
who are not digging some police units the victims of police officers who
respond to complaints jinda by neighbors and they tried it by
day they’re largely a form of harassment and the officer is obviously has been
investigated you try to find out what was being investigated or whatever you
just get a stone wall and that’s the records exception of 65 for out and then
there are some exceptions to 65 for F but you might try to get in through the
VC buddy request ISM contemporaneous of the investigation is a contemporaneous
this is what’s happened with the Sacramento Police Department has refused
to turn over all kinds of records to people who are just basic is something
investigate investigations that are ginned up my neighbors did you have a
question well I think you’re raising what I opened with which is 1421 is
narrow and there are many other states that allow a far broader public access
to to records around not just misconduct but investigatory records of law
enforcement agencies and as California after you know literally having a
complete block on any type of Records for four years has now in the passengers
working to anyone signing into law allowed this opening in
the three categories when we might look at incorporating additional things I
would imagine that will happen at some point
I just wouldn’t predict when and I wouldn’t say it’s an entire – too soon
other questions I married um from the Monterey County
weekly question from mr. Massad Nene you said early on you have attorneys go out
to the scenes of officer-involved shootings with the District Attorney’s
Office is that in every case every single critical incident whether it be
an automobile accident a shooting are investigated extensively by the
departments by the district attorneys by the AG sometimes the FBI is there there
is nothing they get swept under the rug and not investigated can I insert
something on these fees one of the terrors yeah you said that you have
attorneys who go out to oh I guess things or critical incidents names
correct and I asked you do you go out in every case where there is a fatality or
a critical incident if the officer calls and is represented by a union that my
firm represents we do I’m sure there are incidents that where officers don’t call
don’t want representation or unrepresented can i clarify the see
thing one of the bad aspects of this bill is if you’re a Marsy’s law victim
and you challenge the release of your third party information and lose all of
these enormous fees that people are complaining about are assessed against
the third parties that’s why I said earlier it will come in the form of the
civil rights action where the record is already released and somebody is either
the victim of homicide or some kind of harassment or assault as a result of
them having been a witness to a crime or a victim of a crime the witnesses are
not the witnesses to the crime that are protected in this bill they’re the
witnesses that are in support of the person complaining about the police
misconduct and again I’m telling you from the bottom of my heart the police
unions are in favor of transparency we just
want clearer definition clearer law so that what is disclosed can be determined
in a reasonable decision may and we want to know when a final what is a final
determination there’s no effort at trying to hide the facts on the part of
the police unions there is an enormous cost that will undoubtedly result in
bargaining over units to redact records make threat assessment evaluations to
protect crime victims produce the records and overall it will increase
very very very significantly the cost of law enforcement and local agencies in
the bill does not have one penny not one penny in fact it specifically states
that there will be no state appropriations to cover those costs
that’s why we are making the legitimate concerns that law enforcement has and
believe me I’m all for the people I said it earlier that have Chiefs of Police
answered to the people and believe me my experience with what ordinary everyday
people in citizens are saying is far different than what the special interest
groups are saying the billionaire oligarchs or new corporate California is
saying thank you my name is Jocelyn Richard
Peto on occasion and my question is for mr. Murasaki sir you threw out a kind of
aluminum to potential outcome but this SB 1420 one might jeopardize the privacy
of victims and I’m wondering you know you said this hasn’t happened yet but it
could I’m wondering if you could give an example in any city county or state with
a similar public records law and related to police transparency
where this issue is systemic or happened repeatedly well let me read to you from
the bill it says any records maintained by any state or local agency shall not
be commad confidential and shall be made available for public inspection but the
question was about an example of an example when someone’s privacy was
violated because of the I know I know attorney/client okay I haven’t reviewed
every single one of these records and I accept it they value what the gentleman
to my right and left are telling me if they review them I am the suspect that
they’re calling them censored and that leads me to believe that there’s going
to be greater requests do I personally have I’ve seen the case yet no but it’s
been in effect for a very short period of time in the massive states how about
you to bribe me concrete examples systemic or repeated examples well it’s
not pure speculation okay other states don’t have Marsy’s law
I have not reviewed nor do I represent law enforcement agencies what I do in
California and other states I do represent some other agencies but I have
not seen what you’re asking we have time for one more question senator Skinner under your bill can you
state your name please Judy Albert under your pillow 14:21 if
someone in this room requested records related to a sexual assault by law
enforcement officer on a victim and another person was a witness to that
sexual assault and that witness had mental health history in which was
disclosed during the investigation by law enforcement into the assault would
the witness’s mental health records be exempt from disclosure
based on wait 14:21 is currently ready 14:21 would release the police agency or
law enforcement agencies investigatory records related to the incident
now unless those records were a formal part of it in reference to it with a
reference to is not in and of itself does not then make that individual’s
mental health records of animals additionally under HIPAA there are many
additional protections for people’s medical records and so the law
enforcement agency themselves might be able to depending on the circumstance
review a record but they would not necessarily be able to have it in their
possession and what 1421 covers is only records in the law enforcement agent
seize possession it senator Skinner and local law enforcement investigation
search warrants are issued for pertinent documentation including mental health
records if it bears on the credibility of a witness or a victim in that regard
Kimmel would not apply because hypocrite acts and restricts the medical provider
not the recipient of those records through search warrant so assuming that
those records aren’t part of the investigation would they be disclosed
pursuant to CPR a request under 14 21 if they are included in the investigatory
materials the there could be redaction of names but it is possible that they
could be released thank you I want to thank all of you for coming and for a
civil conversation on a very controversial issue thank you all you

1 Comment

  • Reply Amy Martin June 3, 2019 at 11:32 pm

    This is such a very important subject; keep up the great work.

  • Leave a Reply