California FOI Resources

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Californians Aware   (NFOIC Affiliate)
2218 Homewood Way
Carmichael, CA 95608
Contact: Terry Francke, General Counsel
Phone 916.487.7000
Fax 916.487.7999


First Amendment Coalition
534 4th Street, Suite B.
San Rafael, CA 94901
Contact: Peter Scheer, Executive Director
Phone 415.460.5060
Fax 415.460.5155

First Amendment Project
1736 Franklin St., 9th Floor
Oakland, CA 94612
Phone 510.208.7744
Fax 510.208.4562


Open Meetings Law

Brown Act: Gov't Code §54950-54960.5
Closed: Consultation on pending litigation; discipline of public employees; real estate transactions; and collective bargaining.

Link to Brown Act guide (Adobe Acrobat file)

Open Records Law

Calif. Public Records Act: Gov't Code  §6250-6268
Exempt: Law enforcement investigations: litigation; and proprietary business data and personal privacy.

Link to CPRA guide (Adobe Acrobat file)

California Shield Law

The California Shield Law provides legal protections to journalists seeking to maintain the confidentiality of an unnamed source or unpublished information obtained during newsgathering. California Shield Law (Adobe/PDF file)




First Amendment Coalition
(415) 460-5060
"The First Amendment Coalition is an award-winning, nonprofit public interest organization dedicated to advancing free speech, more open and accountable government, and public participation in civic affairs. The Coalition acts locally, statewide and nationally."

Californians Aware
Phone (916) 487-7000
Public Questions & Discussion
Private Questions & Discussion




Office of the Attorney General
California Department of Justice
Attn: Public Inquiry Unit
P.O. Box 944255
Sacramento, CA 94244-2550

The State Bar of California
(Main Office)
180 Howard Street
San Francisco, CA 94105
Phone (415) 538-2000

State Sunshine Chairs

Dan Weikel
Los Angeles Times
5271 East Broadway
Long Beach, CA 90803
Work (714) 966-5977
Home (562) 987-1039
Fax (714) 966-7716

Seth Rosenfeld
San Francisco Chronicle
901 Mission St., Third Floor
San Francisco, CA 94103
Work (415)777-7908
Fax (415) 243-9151



The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press
1101 Wilson Blvd., Suite 1100
Arlington, Virginia 22209
Phone (800) 336-4243 or (703) 807-2100
FOIA Letter Generator


Student Press Law Center
1101 Wilson Blvd., Suite 1100
Arlington, Virginia 22209
Phone (703) 807-1904
Request Letter Generator



The CalAware Guide to Public Records and Private Information in California (2011)
Available December 2011 in ebook and paperback editions.  A comprehensive listing and analysis of all laws providing public access to government or court information as well as protection for private and competitively sensitive facts. Ebook edition fully searchable, keyed to legal dictionary; $24.95 plus tax.  Paperback edition fully indexed, 500 pages.; $49.95 plus tax.
Contact Californians Aware for ordering information: (916) 487-7000 or

The CalAware Guide to Open Meetings in California (2006)
A comprehensive listing and analysis of all laws providing access to meetings of government bodies in local government and the executive, legislative and judicial branches of state government.  Paperback fully indexed, 305 pages; $15 plus tax (2006 edition while they last).
Order online here

The CalAware Guide to Journalism Law in California (2007)
Issues addressed in this guide written in Q&A format include access to public meetings and records; access to court proceedings and judicial records at both the local and federal levels; cameras and recording equipment in the courtroom; getting information on hospital patients under HIPAA; avoiding liability for trespass, intrusion, secret eavesdropping and recording, violations of California's unique paparazzi laws, libel, slander and invasion of privacy; and protection from subpoenas and pretrial discovery under California and federal law. A chapter on the rights of high school and college journalists covers California laws providing freedom from censorship and punitive discipline, as well as access to crime records at colleges and universities. Pocket/purse sized paperback with full table of authorities, 315 pages; $19.50 while they last.
See summary of contents here; order online here.

The Courts and the News Media
by Albert G. Pickerell. 6th ed. San Francisco, CA: California Judges Association, 1993. 238 p.
Sections include California Courts, Federal Courts, Pretrial Civil Procedure, Pretrial Criminal Procedure, Trial Procedure, Legal Bibliography, Cameras in the Courtroom, Access to the Courts, Subpoenas to Journalists, Reporters' Privilege and State Shield Laws, Defamation, Right to Privacy and Access to Meetings and Records. Bibliographical references and appendices are attached.
Format: Handbook. 11 1/2 in.
Price: $13
Order from:
California Judges Association
301 Howard St., Suite 1040
San Francisco, CA 94105
Phone (415) 495-1999

Mass Media Law in California
by Wayne Overbeck and Rick D. Pullen. 2d ed. Dubuque, IA: Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company, 1981.
This textbook, both dated and out of print, still provides a valuable context for California media law. In each area of mass media law, the authors briefly summarize nationwide principles in order to place California law in perspective. The table of contents must be used to offset the rather skimpy index.
Format: Textbook. 8 in. Order from:
Out of print.

Paper Trails: A Guide to Public Records in California
by Stephen Levine and Barbara Newcombe, Center for Investigative Reporting, San Francisco, CA, 1996, 243 p.
This book identifies the local, county and state agencies that keep records in California and what kinds of records they keep. A valuable compendium for records searching in California.
Format: Softcover book
Price: $18 plus $3 shipping
Order from:
Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR)
500 Howard St. Suite 206
San Francisco, CA 94105-3007
Phone (415) 543-1200

Raising Hell
by Dan Noyes, Center for Investigative Reporting, San Francisco, CA, 1983, 41 p.
A detailed analysis of the California Public Records Act.
Format: Booklet, 8 1/2 by 5 in. (Out of print, but available in some libraries)
Price: $18 plus $3 shipping
For Information:
Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR)
500 Howard St. Suite 206
San Francisco, CA 94105-3007
Phone (415) 543-1200

Reporter's Handbook on Media Law
1994-95 ed. Sacramento, CA: California Newspaper Publishers Association, 1994-1995. 305 p.
This handbook is published for members of the California press. It includes a large section on access to information obtained in public meetings, judicial proceedings and public records. It also includes information on obtaining news of patient status from hospitals and entering restricted public and private areas, as well as using restricted documents. The public records section includes information on state and local records as well as federal government records. A news-gathering section discusses use of tape recorders, cameras and radio scanners. The section also addresses use of confidential sources and protection of unpublished notes. Text of relevant statutes and sample request letters are included in appendices. Perhaps most useful is the beat index, which lists information sources by type of beat such as local government, courts, police, crime and state government. This handbook is small in size, but packed with useful information for the journalist.
Format: Handbook. 8 1/2 in.
Price: $16($13 members)
Order from:
California Newspaper Publishers Association
1225 8th St., Suite 260
Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone (916) 443-5991

Open Government Guide from the
Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press