In a blow to law-enforcement unions, the state Supreme Court Wednesday let stand a lower court ruling that calls for the public release of internal department records on officer- and deputy-misconduct cases, even if they pre-date a new state law that requires their disclosure.
Without comment, the state’s high court denied an appeal by the Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs and rejected a request for an immediate stay on the lower court ruling.
Last month, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mitchell L. Beckloff ruled that under newly enacted Senate Bill 1421, which took effect Jan. 1, the internal disciplinary records must be released even if the cases in question occurred before Jan. 1.
Beckloff ruled that the “unambiguous language (of the law) demonstrates the operation of SB 1421 has nothing to do with the date on which a personnel record was created — it applies to all records.”
Various police unions across the state have been challenging the release of misconduct records — including cases such as shootings, use of force and sexual assault by officers — contending that SB 1421 pertains only to cases that occurred after Jan. 1.
Judicial rulings have varied across the state. According to the Los Angeles Times, a judge in Ventura County recently sided with a sheriff’s deputies’ union and granted a preliminary injunction blocking public release of records prior to Jan. 1. But a judge in Contra Costa County ruled against law-enforcement unions and sided with advocates and media groups seeking the release of the older records.
Beckoff’s ruling came in cases filed by both ALADS and the Los Angeles Police Protective League, which represents LAPD officers. The LAPPL opted not to appeal Beckloff’s ruling, but ALADS did. Its appeal, however, was rejected first by a state appeal court and now by the state Supreme Court.
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