Law Seminars International Presents: The Fourth Annual Intensive One-Day Seminar on

Public Records Act Litigation
The unique procedural issues of bringing and defending Public Records Act suits in California

June 8, 2016
Walnut Creek Marriott Hotel in Walnut Creek, CA

Who Should Order This Homestudy

Public and private attorneys who litigate over denials of citizen and media public records requests; public officials responsible for managing public records

Why You Should Order

California's Public Records Act (PRA), enacted in 1968, has been an important tool for citizens seeking access to public records to learn about, understand, and monitor the decisions and spending of government agencies and officials. The PRA has entered an activist era, with more citizens submitting PRA requests and then suing when they are denied. Public agencies have had to balance the economic consequences of wrongful denials and weigh their duty to disclose records shedding light on their operations, even when such records sometimes may expose public employees or public entities to public scrutiny and criticism. The California Supreme Court has decided several PRA cases in recent years.

This comprehensive program will examine this recent trend, from the standpoint of both attorneys and members of the media who have been in the field dealing with the unique procedural issues of bringing and defending PRA suits. It will examine the practical steps that citizens and media entities should take before bringing suit; the duties of government agencies faced with PRA requests; a view from the bench provided by Alameda County Superior Court Judge Evelio Grillo, who has handled many PRA cases; a look at the latest reported cases and those now pending before the California Supreme Court; and practical and ethical tips from both the requester and the agency side. The program will also cover the hot topics of whether records residing on public officials' "private" phones and electronic devices are subject to disclosure under the PRA and California Constitution, and the status of third party records and claims of "trade secrets."

The program will be a valuable resource both for those with experience in making and responding to PRA requests, and for those new to the field.

Program Co-Chairs: John T. Kennedy, Esq., Nossaman LLP and Karl Olson, Esq., Ram, Olson, Cereghino & Kopczynski LLP

What You Will Learn

What Attendees Said


Wednesday, June 08, 2016

8:00 am

Registration Opens

8:30 am

Introduction and Overview

John T. Kennedy, Esq., Program Co-Chair
Nossaman LLP / Sacramento, CA

Karl Olson, Esq., Program Co-Chair
Ram, Olson, Cereghino & Kopczynski LLP / San Francisco, CA

8:45 am

New Developments at the Intersection of California's Public Records and Privacy Acts

Public access to personal records from personal electronic devices used to conduct government business; public employee salary cases; pensions and discipline; applicability of federal vs. state privacy laws; investigating public actions, pay, and perks

Eric W. Danly, Esq., City Attorney
City Of Petaluma / Petaluma, CA

Thomas Peele, Investigative Reporter
Bay Area News Group / Oakland, CA

10:15 am


10:30 am

Records Requests Involving Third Parties and Potential Trade Secrets

Constructive possession (records in a third party's possession when government has a right to get them); cases involving assertions of trade secrets (the balance of protecting proprietary business information v monitoring public spending)

Karl Olson, Esq., Program Co-Chair
Ram, Olson, Cereghino & Kopczynski LLP / San Francisco, CA

Douglas E. Coty, Esq.
Bold, Polisner, Maddow, Nelson & Judson / Walnut Creek, CA

12:00 pm

Lunch (on your own)

1:15 pm

Special Issues Involving Law Enforcement

Jeffrey D. Glasser, Esq., Vice President, Legal
Los Angeles Times / Los Angeles, CA

Are parole records investigative? Peace officer personnel files; police shootings and application of Pitchess statutes; issues relating to what records have to be disclosed by law enforcement agencies and for what period of time

David E. Mastagni, Esq.
Mastagni Holstedt, PC / Sacramento, CA

2:30 pm

Recent Public Records Act Decisions and Pending Matters

Cases before the Supreme Court of California: Caldecott case; inadvertent disclosure of privileged documents (Ardon and Newark cases)

Kelly A. Aviles, Esq.
Law Offices of Kelly Aviles / La Verne, CA

3:15 pm


3:30 pm

Special Address: A. View From the Bench on Public Records Disputes

Common mistakes and tips for presenting an effective Public Records Act case

The Hon. The Hon. Evelio M. Grillo, Judge
The Superior Court of California, County of Alameda / Oakland, CA

4:00 pm

Ethical Issues and Practical Tips for Requestor and Public Sector Responders

Handling records requests under the glare of public scrutiny; serial and continuing requests and "rolling production"; assessing the risk of saying no; attorney fee awards

Terry Francke, Esq., General Counsel
Californians Aware / Carmichael, CA

John T. Kennedy, Esq., Program Co-Chair
Nossaman LLP / Sacramento, CA

Jonathan Koltz, Esq., Legal Counsel
California Public Utilities Commission / San Francisco, CA

Peter Scheer, Esq., Executive Director
First Amendment Coalition / San Rafael, CA

5:00 pm

Evaluations and Adjourn



Regular tuition for in person or webcast attendance for this program is $695 with a group rate of $520 each for two or more registrants from the same firm. For government employees, we offer a special rate of $465. For students, people in their job for less than a year, and public interest NGO's, our rate is $347.50. All rates include admission to all seminar sessions, food and beverages at breaks, and all course materials. Make checks payable to Law Seminars International.

Financial aid is available to those who qualify. Contact our office for more information.

Continuing Education Credits

Live credits: Law Seminars International is a State Bar of California approved MCLE provider. This program qualifies for 6.75 California MCLE credits (including 1 ethics.) Upon request, we will apply for, or help you apply for, CLE credits in other states and other types of credits.


There is a $25 cancellation fee for Course Materials orders and $50 for Homestudy orders

Faculty Bios

John T. Kennedy, Program Co-Chair, partner at Nossaman LLP, specializes in business litigation with an emphasis on employment law. Additionally, he counsels and advises public entities regarding public disclosure of information and the Brown Act, providing these services to the California Office of the Legislative Counsel, the California Assembly Rules Committee, and the Sacramento County Employees' Retirement System.

Karl Olson, Program Co-Chair, partner at Ram, Olson, Cereghino & Kopczynski LLP, specializes in defending news media clients and individuals against defamation and SLAPP suits. He has handled numerous battles for access to public records under the California Public Records Act, including a successful lawsuit decided by the California Supreme Court involving access to public employee salaries.

The Hon. Evelio M. Grillo is a judge in The Superior Court of California, County of Alameda.

Kelly A. Aviles assists clients in obtaining legal orders interpreting California's open government laws and has secured the release of important government and court records. Her firm, The Law Offices of Kelly A. Aviles, is a specialized, boutique firm experienced in the requirements of the California Public Records Act, the Ralph M. Brown Act, and the Bagley-Keene Act.

Douglas E. Coty, Bold, Polisner, Maddow, Nelson & Judson, is lead attorney for the Contra Costa Water District, and focuses on the legal and technical work necessary to establish, govern and operate public and quasi-public agencies and special districts. He is General Counsel for the Oakwood Lake Water District and also for the Contra Costa Mosquito and Vector Control District.
Full bio and contact info for Douglas E. Coty at Bold, Polisner, Maddow, Nelson & Judson

Eric W. Danly is in-house City Attorney for the City of Petaluma and is the legal advisor for the City Council, the Commissions, and City Staff. Previously he was a principal at Meyers Nave where he advised municipalities, public agencies and special districts in all aspects of the law, with a special focus on prevailing wage law, public contract law, and open meetings and records law.

Terry Francke, General Counsel and founder of Californians Aware, a non-profit open government advocacy and support group, helps journalists, citizen watchdogs, attorneys and even government officials and employees understand the open government laws. He published "The CalAware Guide to Public Records and Private Information in California."

Jeffrey D. Glasser, Vice President, Legal, at the Los Angeles Times, assists reporters in obtaining records from public agencies. Previously, he was at Davis Wright Tremaine LLP.

Jonathan Koltz, Legal Counsel, California Public Utilities Commission, advises decision makers (Commissioners, their advisers, and Administrative Law Judges) in energy, water, and telecommunications proceedings; trial and appellate litigation; compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act; and compliance with the California Public Records Act.

David E. Mastagni, partner in the Labor Department of Mastagni Holstedt, PC, specializes in complex civil, class-action, and collective-action litigation matters in labor and employment law representation, including trial and appellate litigation in California and federal courts. He represents public safety representatives and their members with respect to their employment.

Thomas Peele, Investigative Reporter at Bay Area News Group, publishers of The Contra Costa Times, The San Jose Mercury News, The Oakland Tribune and other papers surrounding San Francisco, specializes in data collection and analysis. He is also a lecturer at the University of California, Berkeley, Graduate School of Journalism, co-teaching a class on public-records reporting, and won more than 50 journalism awards, for long-term investigations of government corruption, the environment, and casino gambling.

Peter Scheer, Executive Director, First Amendment Coalition, was editor and publisher of The Recorder, a daily legal newspaper in San Francisco, publisher of Legal Times, a Washington, DC-based weekly on law and lobbying, and CEO of and He practiced appellate law in Washington, DC, both in the U.S. Department of Justice and as a partner in the firm of Onek, Klein, & Farr, and was General Counsel to the National Security Archive.

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