State Supreme Court Set to Rule: Are Officials’ Private Texts, Emails About Government Business Public Records?

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.

  • verifiedsane

    This should be interesting….will the court actually rule for more disclosure; especially considering they are suing the state to limit the legislatures ordered audit of the “commission for judicial performance” which is charged with overseeing judicial corruption & judicial maleficence.

    This good old boys and girls club of politically appointed insiders is known for their lack of transparency, excusing/covering up judicial crimes, misuse of state funds, and an ongoing process of operating in complete secrecy with no public oversight, disclosure, or related accountability.

    • LFOldTimer

      It’s like I’ve been saying, Verified. When you take away all the pomp and glitter we’re no better than TJ. A little more sophisticated. But at the end of the day America plays by the same moral code. The changes this country has gone through in the last 40 years is purely disgusting. Makes me wonder if there’s a good apple left in the entire bunch at the top. Perhaps Goethals and Sanders are it.

  • David Zenger

    What difference does it make? Not much. You’ll still have to hire a lawyer to sue them and they will stall until your grand kids are dead.

  • LFOldTimer

    If elected officials use their private electronic devices to communicate official government business to circumvent transparent disclosure once caught at it everything on that device should be open to public scrutiny. Yes, everything.

    • OCservant_Leader

      Oh yea. You are so right! Let’s see what’s on all their personal devices! Shall we? All we need is their Wi-Fi secret server they all use. They have NO right to privacy. Once they do the public’s business – we own it.

      Like in San Bernardino the Feds barged in and took all their personal phones and computers to expose the corruption. Same thing here.

      County has a policy if you use professional equipment for personal reasons – it is grounds for firing. (and they do it ALL the time). It should go both ways.

  • OCservant_Leader

    Oh snap! This ruling which should demand our public servants be transparent in ALL public’s business (irregardless of where it is located) could and should bring this corrupt family running OC government down.

  • Paul Lucas

    They shouldn’t be using private servers to conduct public business in the first place

    • Allan Bartlett

      Oh you mean for people like Hillary Clinton eh Paul.

      • Paul Lucas

        I was never a Hilbot.