The California Public Records Act is a series of laws meant to guarantee that the public has access to public records of governmental bodies in California. In December of 2011, a Superior Court judge ruled that the California Assembly must also disclose budget records of individual lawmakers, after some California newspapers filed a lawsuit accusing legislators of flouting the state’s open records laws.
Public records in the California Public Records Act are defined as “any writing containing information relating to the conduct of the public’s business prepared, owned, used, or retained by any state or local agency regardless of physical form or characteristics.” There is a separate category of “purely personal information” that, although it may be in the custody of a government agency, does not fall under the act. Statute 6255 states a catch all exemption, “The agency shall justify withholding any record by demonstrating that the record in question is exempt under express provisions of this chapter or that on the facts of the particular case the public interest served by not disclosing the record clearly outweighs the public interest served by disclosure of the record.”
Anyone can request public documents in California, and a purpose does not have to be stated. The California Public Records Act does not regulate the use of records obtained from public agencies. One should allow 10 days for an agency to comply with a records request.