A judge in San Francisco has ordered the attorney general to release police misconduct records prior to Jan. 1 of this year, the date new transparency legislation took effect, according to the Los Angeles Times.
San Francisco County Superior Court Judge Richard B. Ulmer Jr. rejected arguments that the office should not be compelled to release records of local law enforcement.
SB1421 was made to guarantee public access to records involving investigations into officer shootings and incidents involving possible officer misconduct.
Passed last year, SB 1421 unwound a confidentiality law passed decades ago by opening records from investigations of shootings and major force incidents, including confirmed cases of sexual assault and lying on duty.
The previous laws protecting confidentiality for officers not only prohibited the public from viewing such records but denied prosecutors direct access, a standard unique to California at the time.
A Los Angeles Times investigation from last August revealed that misconduct by law enforcement officers who testified in court was routinely kept hidden by California’s laws at the time.
The ruling was a victory for local National Public Radio member KQED-FM, which sued Attorney General Xavier Becerra’s office for records under the legislation.
Becerra’s office told reporters it would release records from before 2019, but only those regarding Department of Justice officers.