Inadvertent disclosure under the CPRA and restraining order, Darren Chaker posts about an article concerning Newark Unified Sch. Dist. v. Superior Court , 2015 WL 4594095 (Cal. Ct. App. July 31, 2015). In this inadvertent document release case, the plaintiff sought injunctive relief against the defendant, requiring the return or destruction of privileged, exempt or confidential records that had been improperly released. The plaintiff sought a temporary restraining order (TRO) shortly after filing a complaint, but the defendant argued that, under a legislative law, the “disclosure” of a public record constitutes a waiver of applicable exemptions from disclosure. Examining past holdings, the court ruled that the term “waiver” did not include accidental, inadvertent disclosures, which included the electronically stored materials produced during discovery. In addition, the court found that an attorney who receives inadvertently produced documents during discovery has an ethical duty to “refrain from unnecessary review of the documents, notify opposing counsel, and return the documents upon request”. The court vacated the lower court’s decision to deny the TRO and ordered the defendant to refrain from dissemination of inadvertently produced privileged documents. See article here.
Darren Chaker also notes, under specified circumstances, the CPRA affords agencies a variety of discretionary exemptions which they may utilize as a basis for withholding records from disclosure. These exemptions generally include personnel records, investigative records, drafts, and material made confidential by other state or federal statutes. In addition, a record may be withheld whenever the public interest in nondisclosure clearly outweighs the public interest in disclosure. When an agency withholds a record because it is exempt from disclosure, the agency must notify the requester of the reasons for withholding the record. However, the agency is not required to provide a list identifying each record withheld and the specific justification for withholding the record.
When a record contains exempt material, it does not necessarily mean that the entire record may be withheld from disclosure. Rather, the general rule is that the exempt material may be withheld but the remainder of the record must be disclosed. See publication.