Continuing its recent trend of weighing in on questions surrounding the California Public Records Act (CPRA), last week the California Supreme Court decided to hear a case involving the need for public agencies to disclose billing invoices provided by outside counsel. (County of Los Angeles Board of Supervisors v. Superior Court (2015) 235 Cal.App.4th 1154, rev. granted July 8, 2015.) The action vacates a Court of Appeal opinion which held that invoices sent to public entities by their legal counsel are protected in their entirety by attorney-client privilege and are not subject to disclosure under the CPRA. (See our prior alert for more information on the case.)
The Supreme Court’s decision to consider this matter adds it to two other CPRA cases which it is already currently considering. The first examines whether electronic communications sent from a public official’s private account on their private device is a “public record” subject to disclosure under the CPRA (City of San Jose v. Superior Court (2014) 225 Cal.App.4th 75, rev. granted June 25, 2014), and the second deciding if privileged records inadvertently disclosed in response to a CPRA request must be returned to the public agency (Ardon v. City of Los Angeles (2014) 232 Cal.App.4th 175, rev. granted March 11, 2015). The Supreme Court’s interest in these cases suggests that this area of the law will see substantial evolution over the upcoming year.
We will continue to provide updates on these cases as they are decided. In the meantime, if you have questions about responding to any other CPRA request, please contact a DWK attorney.