FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 2, 2019
Statement from Rains Lucia Stern St. Phalle & Silver, PC regarding Senate Bill 1421
“On January 2, 2019, the California Supreme Court denied the Petition for Writ of Mandate and Request for Stay filed by the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Employees’ Benefit Association (“SEBA”), which sought to restrain the County of San Bernardino from retroactively applying Senate Bill 1421 respecting the disclosure of peace officer personnel records under the Public Records Act. Specifically, SEBA sought injunctive relief on behalf of its represented peace officers to preserve their statutory and constitutional right to privacy and confidentiality to records which had been subject to important procedural protections for nearly 40 years.
Unfortunately, the California Supreme Court issued a summary denial of the requested relief without explanation or reasoning. The Court’s action was simply a decision to decline to exercise its original jurisdiction in this matter. The Court did not adjudicate the merits of the case, nor did it issue any legal precedent regarding the issues raised. Interested parties are free to litigate this matter in local courts. In fact, we anticipate exactly this scenario – it is possible that numerous lawsuits will be pursued by peace officer labor organizations in local courts throughout the state to prevent public agencies from releasing confidential information which is prohibited by law. The possibility of multiple lawsuits being filed and litigated in numerous counties throughout the state, and the potential for conflicting decisions at the Superior Court level was the impetus for the action we filed on behalf of SEBA.
On December 31, 2018, the Los Angeles Superior Court granted the Los Angeles Police Protective League’s Application for a Stay Order filed by this firm against the City of Los Angeles and Police Chief from retroactively enforcing Senate Bill 1421 which would result in the disclosure of peace officer personnel records and information regarding incidents occurring prior to the legislation’s effective date of January 1, 2019. The legal arguments we advanced on behalf of the League were virtually identical to those which the Supreme Court declined to hear or consider before the issue was litigated in lower courts. The Superior Court hearing on the League’s lawsuit will be conducted on February 5, 2019.”