By Anne Lowe
PUBLIC INFORMATION – The Office of the Inspector General is not required by the California Public Records Act to disclose its investigative files to the public, the California Court of Appeal ruled October 6, in an opinion ordered published Tuesday.
The lawsuit stems from California Public Records Act requests from the Sacramento Bee, San Francisco Chronicle and KCRA-TV for investigatory files related to Phillip Garrido’s parole history. A California Superior Court judge had previously ordered the files be released for inspection, but Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye of the Third District Court of Appeal—and since then named Chief Justice of Californi— concluded that the judge had no authority to do so.
As reported by the Metropolitan News-Enterprise:
The San Francisco Chronicle, the Sacramento Bee and KCRA-TV sought to review the files in connection with their coverage of Phillip Garrido, the parolee accused, along with his wife, of kidnapping an 11-year-old girl in 1991, holding her prisoner for 18 years, and fathering her two children.
The OIG issued a public report faulting parole authorities for failing to uncover the kidnapping in the years that Garrido was subject to their supervision, but refused to release its investigative files.
Jaycee Lee Dugard was kidnapped on June 10, 1991, when she was 11 years old. Dugard was abducted from a school bus stop within sight of her home in South Lake Tahoe.
Observations of unusual behavior on the part of the Garridos sparked an investigation that led to the positive identification of Dugard, living in a tent behind Garrido’s home.
The OIG concluded that opportunities to discover that Garrido had kidnapped Dugard were lost because of negligence in the training and performance of police agents.
Cantil-Sakauye, writing for the Court of Appeal, said Penal Code Sec. 6131, which holds that reports by the OIG to the governor and the head of the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation “shall be held as confidential and disclosed in confidence,” exempts all of the underlying investigative reports from forced disclosure under the CPRA.
The justice also agreed with the OIG that its investigative files are exempt under Government Code Sec. 6254(f), the CPRA provision exempting “investigatory or security files compiled by any...state or local police agency.” Nothing in the OIG statute overrides that broad exemption, Cantil-Sakauye concluded.