Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Southern California v. Superior Court (County of Los Angeles)

Supreme Court of California

August 31, 2017

AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION FOUNDATION OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA et al., Petitioners,
v.
THE SUPERIOR COURT OF LOS ANGELES COUNTY, Respondent; COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES et al., Real Parties in Interest.

         Superior Court Los Angeles County No. BS143004, Ct.App. 2/3 B259392. James C. Chalfant Judge.

          Peter Bibring and Catherine A. Wagner for Petitioner American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Southern California.

          Jennifer Lynch for Petitioner Electronic Frontier Foundation.

          Katie Townsend for the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, American Society of News Editors, Association of Alternative Newsmedia, California Newspaper Publishers Association, Californians Aware, The Center for Investigative Reporting, First Amendment Coalition, Los Angeles Times Communications LLC, The McClatchy Company, The National Press Club, National Press Photographers Association, Online News Association and Society of Professional Journalists as Amici Curiae on behalf of Petitioners.

          First Amendment Project, James R. Wheaton and Cherokee D.M. Melton for Northern California Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists as Amicus Curiae on behalf of Petitioners.

          Marc Rotenberg, Alan Butler, Jeramie Scott and Aimee Thomson for Electronic Privacy Information Center as Amicus Curiae on behalf of Petitioners.

          Jason D. Russell and Richard A. Schwartz for Senator Jerry Hill as Amicus Curiae on behalf of Petitioners.

          No appearance for Respondent.

          Jones & Mayer, Martin J. Mayer, James R. Touchstone and Deborah Pernice-Knefel for California State Sheriffs' Association, California Police Chiefs' Association and California Peace Officers' Association as Amici Curiae on behalf of Respondent.

          Michael N. Feuer, City Attorney (Los Angeles), Carlos de La Guerra, Managing Assistant City Attorney, Debra L. Gonzales and Amy Jo Field, Assistant City Attorneys, Lisa S. Berger and Heather L. Aubry, Deputy City Attorneys, for Real Parties in Interest City of Los Angeles and Los Angeles Police Department.

          Collins Collins Muir Stewart, Eric Brown, Tomas A. Guterres and James C. Jardin for Real Parties in Interest County of Los Angeles and Los Angeles Sheriffs' Department.

          Colantuono, Highsmith & Whatley, Aleksan R. Giragosian, Michael G. Colantuono and Michael R. Cobden for League of California Cities and California State Association of Counties as Amici Curiae on behalf of Real Parties in Interest.

          CHIN, J.

         Real parties in interest, the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) of the City of Los Angeles and the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department (LASD) of the County of Los Angeles (collectively, real parties) employ automated license plate reader (ALPR) technology in order to locate vehicles linked to crimes under investigation. The American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Southern California (ACLU) and Electronic Frontier Foundation (collectively, petitioners) filed a request under the California Public Records Act (CPRA) for all ALPR data collected during a one-week period. (Gov. Code, § 6250 et seq.)[1] Petitioners sought disclosure of this ALPR data “so that the legal and policy implications of the government's use of ALPRs to collect vast amounts of information on almost exclusively law-abiding [citizens of Los Angeles] may be fully and fairly debated.”

         We initially granted review to determine whether the requested ALPR data are exempt from disclosure as falling within the CPRA provision protecting police and state “[r]ecords of... investigations” under section 6254, subdivision (f) (section 6254(f)). As relevant here, section 6254(f) protects from disclosure: “Records of investigations conducted by... any state or local police agency.”[2]

         After granting review, we requested additional briefing on a second issue: Whether the catchall exemption in section 6255, subdivision (a) (section 6255(a)) authorizes real parties to withhold the requested ALPR data. Under section 6255(a), a public agency may “justify withholding any record by demonstrating 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.”

         Petitioners conceded in the trial court that section 6254(f) protects from disclosure the ALPR license plate scan data that matches vehicles linked to law enforcement investigations under section 6254(f). They do not argue that real parties' use of the ALPR technology is unlawful. They contend only that ALPR scan data are not exempt from disclosure under the CPRA.

         The trial court determined that the data requested came within section 6254(f)'s “[r]ecords of... investigations” exemption. The court also concluded that section 6255(a)'s catchall provision authorized real parties to withhold the data. The Court of Appeal affirmed the judgment based on section 6254(f), without reaching the section 6255(a) question. In light of our constitutional obligation to broadly construe the CPRA in a manner that furthers the people's right of access to the conduct of governmental operations, and to narrowly construe any exemptions (Cal. Const., art. I, § 3, subd. (b)(2)), we disagree with the trial court and the Court of Appeal that the ALPR scan data at issue here are subject to section 6254(f)'s exemption for records of investigations. In addition, although we agree with the trial court that the public interest in nondisclosure of raw ALPR scan data clearly outweighs the public interest in disclosure of such data (§ 6255(a)), we remand for further consideration of whether the raw data may reasonably be anonymized or redacted such that the balance of interests would shift and disclosure of the data would be required under the CPRA.

         BACKGROUND

         The relevant facts are generally not in dispute. The ALPR data collection system at issue here utilizes high-speed computer-controlled cameras mounted on fixed structures or on patrol cars. The cameras automatically capture an image of the license plate of each vehicle that passes through their optical range. For each image, the ALPR system uses character recognition software and almost instantly checks the license plate number against a list of license plate numbers that have been associated with crimes, child abduction AMBER alerts, or outstanding warrants. This list of license plate numbers comprises the investigative “hot list.” When a hot list match occurs, the system alerts either officers in a patrol car or a central dispatch unit, depending on whether the ALPR unit that detects a match ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.