California Public Records

Legislation enacting the California Public Records Act (hereinafter, “CPRA”) was signed in 1968, culminating a 15-year-long effort to create a general records law for California. Previously, one was required to look at the law governing the specific type of record in question in order to determine its disclosability. When the CPRA was enacted, an attempt was made to remove a number of these specific laws from the books. However, preexisting privileges such as the attorney-client privilege have been incorporated by reference into the provisions of the CPRA. The fundamental precept of the CPRA is that governmental records shall be disclosed to the public, upon request, unless there is a specific reason not to do so. Most of the reasons for withholding disclosure of a record are set forth in specific exemptions contained in the CPRA. However, some confidentiality provisions are incorporated by reference to other laws. Also, the CPRA provides for a general balancing test by which an agency may withhold records from disclosure, if it can establish that the public interest in nondisclosure clearly outweighs the public interest in disclosure.