Several local governments in California are using a recent rejection letter from California's top lawyer to bolster their arguments that they should not have to release police misconduct files.
The tactic has intensified a legal battle over a new state law intended to shine light on police discipline and use-of-force information, which has been shielded from public view for decades.
Late last week, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra rejected a public records request from a freelance journalist for misconduct files for law enforcement agents employed by his agency.
Becerra cited two superior court cases in which police unions have challenged the implementation of Senate Bill 1421, which requires agencies that employ sworn officers to publicly release disciplinary records involving sexual assault and dishonesty, as well as records about serious uses of force. KQED is part of a coalition of news organizations intervening in one of those cases, which is scheduled to be heard Friday afternoon in Contra Costa County Superior Court.
"We want to make sure what we do, we do legally so that there are no repercussions if we disclose confidential documents," Becerra told reporters at McClatchy High School in Sacramento Tuesday night after he delivered the Spanish language response to President Trump's State of the Union address.