Gavel

By Matthias Gafni, Bay Area News Group
mgafni@bayareanewsgroup.com
Posted: 04/06/15 – 8:16 PM PDT |

SACRAMENTO >> In a first of its kind decision for open government, a Sacramento judge ruled last week that the public has a constitutional right of access to California state Legislature meetings and writings of public officials.

In an eight-page ruling Friday, Sacramento Superior Court Judge Michael Kenny denied the state’s pleading to throw out part of the case brought by Bay Area News Group and its Southern California partners Los Angeles Newspaper Group. Both newspaper groups sued the state Senate and its leaders in July over their refusal to release portions of the appointment calendars of two indicted and suspended state senators.“Judge Kenny’s ruling is significant,” the newspapers’ attorney Duffy Carolan said Monday. “The Senate’s argument in this case — that its records and meetings were not subject to the State’s constitutional right of access — does not hold up. Going forward, the Senate and the Assembly can no longer operate under a different presumption.”

State attorneys argued that Proposition 59, a ballot measure passed overwhelmingly by voters in 2004, exempted the Legislature’s records and meetings from public inspection.

“If the intent of Proposition 59 was to exclude legislative proceedings and records from its reach, it could have plainly so stated,” Kenny wrote.

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