The California Public Records Act is a law that requires disclosure of government records to the public. This law is quite expansive, giving access to essentially all information that concerns the conduct of "the people's business." However, it does have a list of exemptions.
What Type of Information Is Subject to the Act?
Nearly any record, absent an exception, of any California government office will be subject to the California Public Records Act (CPRA), including:
- State Offices
- State Departments
- State Commissions
- State Agencies
- State Bureaus
- County Offices
- School Districts
- Municipal Corporations
- Public Entities
- Non-profits belonging to a local agency
However, state legislatures and their committees, as well as state courts, are not subject to the CPRA. There are other applicable laws to access those agencies. Furthermore, private agencies are not covered by the CPRA.
What Are the Exemptions to the CPRA?
First off, an agency may refuse to release records if the public interest in not making the record public clearly outweighs the public interest in disclosing the record.
Second, there are a list of specific exemptions, which include:
- Pending litigation
- Private personal information
- Securities and banking regulation
- Personal, Medical Files
- Information from Exams
- Real estate appraisals
- Taxpayer information
- Library circulation records
- Privileged or confidential information
- Employee relations
- Homeland security
Furthermore, several law enforcement records may be exempt. Some exemptions include complaints, investigations information, intelligence records, security procedures and several other types of documents that reflect the investigative techniques of law enforcement are exempt from disclosure.
Should I Be Concerned about My Private Information?
No. The CPRA only applies to information created by a public agency and concerning public business. Even as a public official or government employee, your private information will be exempt.
Seeking Legal Help
These public records may be helpful during litigation or other legal proceedings. Additionally, this type of information is also vital for professional and citizen journalists. Attempting to get information from local governments may be a daunting and difficult prospect. An experienced government attorney may be able to help you navigate this complicated statutory law and get the information you are entitled to.