Are the emails and texts of California government officials who use personal cell phones, note pads or laptops to skirt the state’s public disclosure law still public records?

The California Supreme Court will give its answer Thursday.

The court is set to rule in the City of San Jose vs. the Superior Court (Smith), a case that could require public officials to disclose government information kept on private servers.

“Access to information concerning the conduct of the people’s business is a fundamental and necessary right of every person in this state,” according to California’s 48-year-old California Public Records Act.

But the use of private devices and servers has made it difficult for members of the public and news reporters to gain accesses to documents and correspondence about public business.

You can contact Tracy Wood at and follow her on Twitter: @TracyVOC.

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