Senator introduces reverse CPRA bill

Senator Maria Elena Durazo (D-Los Angeles) recently amended her SB 749 to require a CPRA requester to be named as a real party in interest in a reverse public records action and require a court to allow the requester to participate fully on the merits of the reverse public records action.

The bill would also require a person who initiates a reverse public records action to pay the requester’s court costs and reasonable attorney’s fees if the court denies the petition seeking to prevent the public agency from disclosing the record at issue. Additionally, the bill would require a public agency to pay court costs and reasonable attorney’s fees to the requester under specified circumstances.

There has been an increasing movement among government agencies that receive requests involving an employee to notify the employee about the request prompting the employee or his or her bargaining representative to go to court to file for an injunction to prevent the agency from disclosing any information. These are known as reverse CPRA actions.

The increase in the number of these actions sharpened in January in the wake of CNPA’s successful effort to allow public access to certain police misconduct records. Prior to the new law becoming effective, numerous associations representing rank-and-file law enforcement officers filed petitions in courts throughout California seeking injunctions to prevent the disclosure of these records in the custody of agencies that were in existence prior to January 1.