Supreme Court: Personal Cell Phones Subject to PRA Requests

City of San Jose v. Superior Court of Santa Clara County (California Supreme Court Case No. S218066) (Issued on March 2, 2017)

Are communications about government matters sent through a public official’s personal email account subject to disclosure under the Public Records Act (PRA)? The City of San Jose (City) argued that such communications are not “public records” because they are not within the City’s custody or control. The Supreme Court disagreed.

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The New Friedrichs case: Janus v AFSCME

Mark Janus et al v. AFSCME et al (7th Cir.) (Docket No. 16-3638) Last year everyone’s attention was focused on the Supreme Court’s opinion in the Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association (Friedrichs) case. At issue was the Supreme Court’s 1977 decision in Abood v. Detroit Board of Education which sanctioned the collection of mandatory agency fees in the public sector. After oral argument in January 2016, almost all commentators agreed that the Supreme Court was likely to overturn its precedent in Abood. That all changed with the passing of Justice Scalia which resulted in the Supreme Court affirming the Friedrich’s…

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The State of Factfinding under the MMBA

County of Riverside v. PERB (2016) 246 Cal.App.4th 20, review denied (July 13, 2016) and San Diego Housing Commission v. PERB (2016) 246 Cal.App.4th 1, review denied (July 13, 2016) For those of you who haven’t heard, the fight over whether the MMBA requires factfinding over single issues is over (at least for now). In a prior post, I discussed the two court of appeal decisions that issued on March 30, 2016 and ruled in PERB’s favor. Both employers filed petitions for review with the California Supreme Court. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court denied review in both cases on July 13,…

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PERB Wins Round 2 on Scope of AB 646 Factfinding

County of Riverside v. PERB (4th DCA Case No. D069065) and San Diego Housing Commission v. PERB (4th DCA Case No. D066237) (Issued on 3/30/16)

Today the Court of Appeal issued its long-awaited decision on the scope of AB 646 factfinding under the MMBA. Since the enactment of AB 646, PERB has taken the position that factfinding is available for any dispute over a negotiable matter, even if the dispute arises outside of negotiations for a memorandum of understanding (MOU). Employers, on the other hand, asserted that AB 646 factfinding only applies to disputes arising out of MOU negotiations. According to employers, factinding would not be available, for example, in a dispute over negotiable effects arising out of a management decision.

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Supreme Court Affirms Friedrichs Decision

After oral argument on January 11, almost all commentators agreed that the Supreme Court was likely to overturn the Ninth Circuit's decision in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association (Friedrichs) and hold that public sector unions cannot compel agency fees from its bargaining unit members.  However, Justice Scalia's death changed everything.  Today, the Supreme Court issued a terse one-sentence decision stating, "The judgment is affirmed by an equally divided Court." In other words, it was a tie 4-4 vote.  That means the underlying decision stands. Comments So does this decision require California public employers to do anything different? No. The decision means that the status…

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