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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Fifth Cause of Action Added to Malibu Township Council Lawsuit against City

• Legality of Municipal Email Deletion Policy Also Targeted

BY BILL KOENEKER

Malibu Township Council legal counsel Frank Angel filed a first amended petition for writ of mandate and complaint. in court this week.
“The amended pleading is now the operative pleading in court. It adds a new fifth cause of action for a judicial declaration,” said Angel.
The MTC attorney charges the city’s email deletion/destruction policy “allows most emails to be deleted when read [and] is illegal.”
Angel asserts the practice violates the California Public Records Act, a state statute that requires all records of local governments to be kept for at least two years and “violates the basic provision of the California Constitution providing that ‘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.’”
“The CPRA specifically includes emails into the definition of ‘writings,’” added Angel.
The attorney said a ruling in the public’s favor on the issue is not limited to the parkland swap.
“It will protect the integrity of the city records in the future in other matters of city business,” he said.
Angel indicated municipal officials and staff did not produce all the electronically stored information and other writings responsive to the public records request and the emails “belatedly made available” were provided as PDF file printouts.
Consequently, Angel is asking the court that city officials must make available “all records that constitute electronically stored information in the electronic format in which they hold this information, as we requested and as the public is entitled to.”

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