Déjà Lu: The Case for Grisly Fun for the Immature

Fifty-seven years ago, when the Justices of the U.S. Supreme Court were an average of 8.5 years old, a U.S. Senate Committee was holding hearings on the perceived connection between juvenile delinquency and the fascination of immature minds with vivid enactments of murder, torture and ghoulish mayhem in the most popular youth entertainment of the day—comic books.  Those who pandered to this adolescent obsession with the morbid—the publishers—went to the Capitol to testify.  Among the most fervent, William M. Gaines—later the publisher of Mad magazine—insisted à la Mayor Jimmy Walker that no kid had ever been ruined by a comic book.  Gaines’s comments—and the skeptical responses of some committee members—sound quite familiar in the aftermath of the high court’s recent decision in Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association.

Two L.A. D.A. Hopefuls Silent So Far on Discipline

Six deputy district attorneys vying to  succeed retiring Los Angeles D.A. Steve Cooley next year have shown three different responses to a newspaper’s request for any records of discipline by either their departmental bosses or the State Bar. Three have waived any confidentiality and show no incidents in their records. One has partially disclosed a facetious comment that drew a complaint from an intern. But two have stayed silent so far. Roger M. Grace, editor and publisher of the courthouse newspaper Metropolitan News-Enterprise—and himself a lawyer—calls their unresponsive stance “audacious” and says they probably can’t keep any discipline records secret. Continue reading

Daunting Request for E-mails on School Project

The superintendent of a tiny San Mateo County school district says that if the resident requesting all the e-mails of her predecessor sent or received over his last five years on the job concerning a construction bond fiasco is still serious, he’ll have to wait until she can print and read each one to see if it can be released. And that, reports Mark Noack for the Half Moon Bay Review, could mean quite a wait, given the estimated 23,000-plus messages. Continue reading

Another Court Agrees: County Pensions Are Public

In the second of three such cases brought in different districts of the California Court of Appeal, a three-justice panel has again ruled that the public is entitled to learn the pension amounts earned by identified county retirees, reports Greg Moran for the San Diego Union-Tribune. One commentator suggests that high pensions are a way for elected officials to reward union demands but with a delayed impact, allowing them to get out of town before the fuse  burns down. Continue reading

Bakersfield to Keep Trashing E-mails after 30 Days

The City of Bakersfield has abandoned its plan to dispose of a large archive of e-mails after learning that preservation would not cost as much as feared, reports the Bakersfield Californian. But from here on, e-mails will be automatically purged on a rolling basis 30 days after creation, unless printed or otherwise saved by the affirmative act of an employee based on his or her judgment about the message’s importance. The newspaper opposes that policy and is weighing its options. Continue reading

Judge: Attorney's Computer Search Request Is Abusive

A Sonoma County judge has rejected an attorney’s bid under the California Public Records Act to search the official and private computers of city staff, elected officials and consultants for information to be used in a personal injury lawsuit stemming from the injuries to a teenager struck by a car two years ago while using a crosswalk in Sebastopol. The judge called the attempt an abuse of the law deserving of an attorney’s fees sanction as “clearly frivolous,” reported Frank Robertson for the Sonoma West Times & News on June 15. But in seeking review from the Court of Appeal, the attorney will be arguing an issue so far left unanswered: When, if ever, does the records act reach the official business messages of officials sent and stored on their private e-mail accounts? Continue reading