Judge Says Law Enforcement Agencies Must Comply With New Public Records Law (SB 1421)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Mar. 1, 2019
CONTACT:
Edward Sifuentes
esifuentes@aclusandiego.org
(619) 501-3408

SAN DIEGO – Today, San Diego County Superior Court Judge Eddie C. Sturgeon sided with the ACLU Foundation of San Diego & Imperial Counties (ACLUF-SDIC) and several San Diego news media outlets, ruling that local law enforcement agencies must comply with a new state public records law, SB 1421, and disclose relevant records regardless of when they were created.

Last month, the ACLUF-SDIC filed a motion to intervene in a lawsuit by several police unions seeking to prevent the release of police misconduct records as required by the state’s new law, the “California Public Records Act” (SB 1421). The ACLU demanded that local law enforcement agencies act immediately to comply with the new law.

David Loy, legal director for the ACLUF-SDIC, said: “Today’s ruling is a victory for transparency and accountability. Families and the public have a right to know if their local police departments are holding officers accountable when they violate the law or department rules – or if they are putting them back on the streets to do more harm.”

Background:

Until now, California had been one of the nation’s most secretive states when it comes to protecting police records. This landmark law, which took effect on Jan. 1, 2019, gives the public unprecedented access to records documenting police shootings, department findings of sexual assault and lying by police officers. In the lawsuit, attorneys for police unions in San Diego, Carlsbad, Coronado, El Cajon, National City and Oceanside argued that SB 1421 did not apply to records created before January 1.

The ACLU’s motion – on behalf of Flora Rivera, whose brother, Raul Rivera, was shot and killed by multiple law enforcement officers in May 2018 – seeks to defend the Rivera family’s and the public’s right to obtain police records documenting the shooting.

Read the ACLUF-SDIC’s brief and the motion to intervene here: https://www.aclusandiego.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/2019-02-20-Mem-of-PsAs-Opp-Writ-FINAL.pdf; http://bit.ly/sb1421motion.

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