(Records of trials and other judicial proceedings—case records—have long been presumed open
to the public under common law in California as well as all other states. Rule 10.500 instead applies to records of how the courts are run, at what cost, and the like.)
Records Requested Superior Courts
To test how well the state’s 58 county-based superior (trial) courts comply with the new rule, CalAware used email addressed to each court’s executive officer to make the following requests, shown in italic.
1. Executive Committee Minutes
Agenda(s) and minutes or action summaries of the meeting(s) of the Court’s executive committee, or the equivalent, for the period October 15 – November 15, 2012.
The larger superior courts are governed by an executive committee, comprising some or all of their judges, in much the same way as a city is governed by a city council. That committee meets periodically to address and decide issues of administration, including but not limited to such matters as budgeting, judicial workload, income and spending, labor relations and so on, as well as the adoption of local rules concerning the management of cases and procedural requirements for parties. In smaller courts with only a handful of judges, these issues are addressed more informally, but an example of the scope of concerns to be dealt with, the Executive Committee of the Los Angeles Superior Court has subcommittees dealing with Civil & Small Claims; Criminal Court Matters; Education; Family Law; Grand Jurors; Judges' Retirement Benefits; Juvenile Departments; Legislation; Mental Health; Personnel and Budget; Probate Departments; Rules; Security; and Trial Jurors.Although no state law, rule of court or other provision has so far been interpreted as requiring superior court executive committees to meet openly, there is an interesting argument to be made that a 2004 amendment to the state constitution—added by more than 83 percent of the voters via Proposition 59—does exactly that. Article I, Section 3 (b) (1) states simply, “The people have the right of access to information concerning the conduct of the people’s business, and, therefore, the
meetings of public bodies
and the writings of public officials and agencies shall be open to public scrutiny.” (Emphasis added). The term “public body” might well be applied to superior court executive committees, which although supported in large part by state rather than local funds, also have a great deal to say about local public access to the courts in terms of fees, schedules, facility sites and ease of use.The mid-October to mid-November span of the minutes’ request was arbitrary— long enough to be likely to capture one or more meetings of any such bodies, but not creating an undue burden of compilation.
Responses in General:
See details here
See overall responses by county