The Orange County District Attorney has announced criminal charges against two Fullerton police officers accused of administering a beating that led to the death of a harmless, homeless schizophrenic, begging for mercy as he was held and battered inside a swarm of uniformed patrolmen. This announcement might well never have occurred if the only witnesses had been those officers, but video cameras captured enough evidence with an independent eye to support murder and other charges. And cellphone or other cameras used by citizens to record police street action, reports Reason magazine, are beginning to make those citizens attractive targets for police interference—or worse.
Last night we called attention to a report from CNN Tech that SB 914 had become law without Governor Jerry Brown’s signature. That is not the case. The Governor still has until the end of the month to veto or sign the bill. The First Amendment Coalition, one of the bill’s sponsors, has arranged an online petition urging signature.
The state’s oldest municipal sunshine ordinance was established and extended thanks to the leadership of the San Francisco Bay Guardian, which now reports that enforcement was left to an ethics commission which simply won’t act to discipline recalcitrant officials, and thus leaves the task force given oversight of compliance with the law powerless to give citizens the openness they have a right to. The result, explains Claire Mullen, is to let entities like the Recreation and Parks Department flatly lie about the existence of embarrassing public records with impunity.
Congressman Darrell Issa (R-Vista), chair of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, has introduced a bill that would maximize Web-based disclosure of federal spending, reports Vishal Ganesan for the Daily Caller, who notes that Issa discussed his Digital Accountability and Transparency Act Wednesday morning at the O’Reilly Media Strata Conference in New York City. Continue reading
Metaphorically finding plenty of firearms and the air reeking of cordite but not quite any smoking guns, the Orange County D.A.’s office backed away from its earlier conclusions that a notoriously Brown Act-averse school board had actually broken the law. Scott Martindale explains for the Orange County Register.
A judge has refused to forbid the San Diego Union-Tribune from publishing or otherwise using purportedly confidential information—business documents, not patient records—mistakenly sent to it by a hospital district in response to a public records request, reports Aaron Burgin for the newspaper.
There’s no good reason, a federal judge ruled Monday, to keep secret the court-recorded video of last year’s San Francisco trial challenging the constitutionality of Proposition 8—the ban on gay marriage in California. Defenders of the proposition, who are still before the U.S. Ninth Circuit of Appeals arguing their right to that status—even though state officials declined the role—say they will take the video access issue to the Ninth Circuit and even to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary. They argue that their witnesses need protection from the exposure that a video release would bring. Kirsten Berg explains for he Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. Continue reading