CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Monday, July 9, 2007

Cali May Get More Access to Police Disciplinary Records

From Legislation that would increase Californians' access to police disciplinary records by rolling back a 2006 state Supreme Court ruling appears to be dead for the year -- the victim of formidable law enforcement opposition.

To win passage in 2007, the measure by state Senate Majority Leader Gloria Romero, D-Los Angeles, needs to clear the Assembly Public Safety Committee by Friday. However, the panel's chairman has scheduled no further hearings on the bill, which has already passed the state Senate.

Although the measure, SB1019, has the support of many community groups, newspapers, city officials, the American Civil Liberties Union and some members of police review agencies, it is also opposed by dozens of law enforcement groups.

The fight dates back to 2003, when the San Diego Union-Tribune sought to attend an administrative appeals hearing for a deputy sheriff who had been fired.

The deputy's lawyers objected, saying that under state law, disciplinary procedures for law enforcement officers were personnel matters and thus closed to the public unless an officer wanted them open.

The newspaper was barred from the hearing and went to court. Last year, in its Copley vs. Superior Court decision, the state Supreme Court ruled 6-1 that the public had no right to obtain records of administrative appeals in police disciplinary cases. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

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