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AUSD Loses Motion in Public Records Court Case

An Alameda County Superior Court judge has ruled against the Alameda Unified School District in a lawsuit brought against the District under the California Public Records Act.

The case is Peter Hagberg v. Alameda Unified School District, RG10-500556 in Alameda County Superior Court which was filed in February of this year. Mr. Hagberg made a public records request late last year for several documents, included a copy of the video tape of the December 8th, 2009, AUSD Board of Trustees meeting. When AUSD made available a copy of the tape for Hagberg to view, a portion of the meeting – the portion covering the agenda item that Hagberg was interested in, was missing from the tape. Hagberg sued AUSD under the California Public Records Act to obtain a full copy of the video and subsequently received a full copy.

In his ruling for Hagberg, on a “Motion for Evidentiary Hearing That Plaintiff is the Prevailing Party,” Judge David Hunter wrote, “The evidence supports Plaintiff’s argument that Defendants’ production of the documents was induced by Plaintiff’s lawsuit. In particular, the evidence reflects that Defendants failed to produce any documents at all in response to Plaintiff’s December 30 CPRA request (and also failed to comply with their commitment to produce responsive documents by January 28) until after being serviced with the Complaint in this action on March 4…based on the evidence presented by the parties, the Court finds that the filing and service of this litigation did motivate Defendants to produce the requested documents.”

Should Hagberg file a motion with the Court to recover attorneys fees and costs, the Court will consider “whether the incomplete videotape falls within the definition of a ‘public record’ under the CPRA” and whether any amounts claimed by Hagberg for attorneys fees are reasonable.

Attorneys for AUSD have argued that “The videotapes with a gap were not a ‘public record’ within the meaning of the California Public Records Act, and even if so, Plaintiff never requested a copy of the videotapes with a gap.”

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