California FOI Resources

Quick Information | FOI Hotline | Contacts | Form Letters | Publications

Californians Aware   (NFOIC Affiliate)
2218 Homewood Way
Carmichael, CA 95608
Contact: Terry Francke, General Counsel
Phone 916.487.7000
Fax 916.487.7999
Email terry@calaware.org
http://www.calaware.org

 

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
Email pscheer@firstamendmentcoalition.org
http://www.firstamendmentcoalition.org


First Amendment Project
1736 Franklin St., 9th Floor
Oakland, CA 94612
Phone 510.208.7744
Fax 510.208.4562
Email fap@thefirstamendment.org
http://www.thefirstamendment.org

QUICK FOI INFORMATION

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Shield Law provides legal protections to journalists seeking to maintain the confidentiality of an unnamed source or unpublished information obtained during newsgathering.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)

CONSTITUTION OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA

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FOI HOTLINE

First Amendment Coalition
(415) 460-5060
http://www.firstamendmentcoalition.org/legal-hotline/
"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
Private Questions & Discussion info@calaware.org

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CONTACTS

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

The State Bar of California
(Main Office)
180 Howard Street
San Francisco, CA 94105
Phone (415) 538-2000
http://www.calbar.ca.gov/state/calbar/calbar_home.jsp
 

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
dan.weikel@latimes.com

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

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FORM LETTERS

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

 

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

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PUBLICATIONS

 

The CalAware Guide to Public Records and Private Information in California (Paperback)

by Terry Francke (Author)

 

This comprehensive guide to all California law providing or restricting access to government and judicial records focuses on the California Public Records Act (records of state executive branch officials, boards and departments and local government agencies) but also covers the statutes providing access to records of the state Legislature, case and administrative records of the trial and appellate courts, records of the California Judicial Council, the Commissions on Judicial Appointments and Judicial Performance, the State Bar, and locally adopted sunshine ordinances. The guide analyzes each statutory provision as well as its interpretive case law and attorney general's opinions, and includes the full text of each statute and court rule. Issues addressed in the Public Records Act and comparable provisions governing the Legislature and court system include the common law and early statutes on access; the definition of key terms; the basic access provisions on inspecting and obtaining copies of records; the hundreds of exemptions from disclosure protecting personal, business and governmental interests; informal approaches to gaining access, including a model Public Records Act request letter; and legal remedies and litigation. Also examined is the constitutional open government mandate added by Proposition 59 of 2004. The guide contains a full topical index and table of authorities and a listing of all records retention and destruction statutes. It is written by Terry Francke, general counsel for the nonprofit public interest organization Californians Aware, with more than 30 years of experience helping journalists, citizen watchdogs, attorneys and even government officials and employees understand the open government laws. Francke is also author of the other CalAware Guides on Journalism Law in California and Open Meetings in California.

Link: http://calaware.org/store

 

The CalAware Guide to Open Meetings in CaliforniaPaperback (2015)

by Terry Francke (Author) This second edition of the comprehensive guide to all California law on access to government meetings focuses on the Ralph M. Brown Act (local government councils, boards and commissions), with parallel coverage of the Bagley-Keene Open Meeting Act (state government councils, boards and commissions) as well as special rules for meetings of the state legislature, the California Judicial Council, the Commissions on Judicial Appointments and Judicial Performance, the University of California Board of Regents, the Board of Governors of the State Bar, Student Government Bodies at California State University campuses, local school site Parent Advisory Committees, Homeowners Association Governing Boards, and locally adopted sunshine ordinances. The guide analyzes each statutory provision as well as its interpretive case law and attorney general's opinions-current through September 2015-and includes the full text of each statute and court rule. Issues addressed for the Brown and Bagley-Keene Acts include the definition of key terms, the requirements for meetings, the rights of the public, exceptions from the open meeting requirement, dealing with violations without going to court, and legal remedies and litigation strategy, including sample letters to challenge violations of these open meeting laws. Also examined is the constitutional open government mandate added by Proposition 59 of 2004. The guide is written by Terry Francke, general counsel for the nonprofit public interest organization Californians Aware, with more than 35 years of experience helping journalists, citizen watchdogs, attorneys and even government officials and employees understand the open government laws. Francke is also author of the other CalAware Guides on Journalism Law in California and Public Records and Private Information in California. 

Link: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0976906260?keywords=The%20CalAware%20Guide&qid=1455666758&ref_=sr_1_1&sr=8-1

 

The CalAware Guide to Journalism Law in California (2013)
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, 395 pages. $24.95 @ amazon.com.


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

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