Appeals

California Court of Appeal Orders County to Produce To FMG Client 42,000 Withheld E-mails

Sacramento, CA.  Dean Getz brought a California public records act case in the County of El Dorado in which he sought production of 42,000 e-mails between the County and a land developer. Getz was represented…

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Sacramento, CA.  Dean Getz brought a California public records act case in the County of El Dorado in which he sought production of 42,000 e-mails between the County and a land developer. Getz was represented by Freeman Mathis & Gary’s Sacramento partner, Greg Fayard. The trial court denied Getz’s request as “overbroad and unduly burdensome.” Getz petitioned to California’s Third Appellate District. On November 17, 2021, after oral argument, the Court of Appeal granted Getz’s petition, ruling that since the 42,000 were already identified and indexed and the County failed to show any of the e-mails were exempt from disclosure or contained privileged information, all the e-mails and any attachments must be produced.  The Court opined: “An agency cannot resist disclosure based on the burden stemming from actions needed to assuage an abstract fear of improvident disclosure, a fear that could be avoided by simply setting privileged documents apart. . . . California has declared, in terms as clear as the English language permits, that government business is the people’s business whether conducted in proceedings by deliberative bodies (Gov. Code, § 54950 et seq.) or discussed in records of any form, and must be accessible to the public, though access can be regulated to reduce the administrative burden imposed on government agencies and in rare instances can be denied to prevent the disclosure of records exempt from disclosure.”

The Court further ruled that the County shall pay Getz’s costs and reasonable attorney fees.

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