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Nazmul Ahasan filed this request with the Criminal Clerk's Office, Superior Court of Contra Costa County of Contra Costa County of Contra Costa County, CA.
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From: Nazmul Ahasan

To Whom It May Concern:

I am Nazmul Ahasan, a reporter with the Investigative Reporting Program at UC Berkeley. This request is brought by the California Reporting Project, a collaboration of 40 news organizations including KQED, Bay Area News Group, Southern California News Group, the Investigative Reporting Project at UC Berkeley, Capital Public Radio, Southern California Public Radio, San Francisco Chronicle, and The Los Angeles Times.

This is a public record request made under the California Public Records Act (§ 6250 et seq.), seeking updated records related to the contract agencies of law enforcement agencies in California.

We are seeking a list of all the lawsuits or cases filed with the court under the California PENAL CODE 647(J)(4) between January 2021 to December 2021.

The requested documents will be made available to the general public, and this request is not being made for commercial purposes.

In the event that there are fees, I would be grateful if you would inform me of the total charges in advance of fulfilling my request. I would prefer the request filled electronically, by e-mail attachment if available.

Thank you in advance for your anticipated cooperation in this matter. I look forward to receiving your response to this request within 10 calendar days, as the statute requires.

Thank you.

Nazmul Ahasan
nazmul@berkeley.edu
+1-510-666-5946

From: Criminal Clerk's Office, Superior Court of Contra Costa County of Contra Costa County

Good afternoon,

Thank you for your email. This confirms receipt of your request. Please note that the California Public Records Act does not apply to the courts. (See Cal. Gov. Code § 6250 et seq.; Sander v. State Bar of California (2013) 58 Cal.4th 300, 309.) Instead, Rule 10.500 of the California Rules of Court governs access to Court administrative records, and the Court construes your request as one made under this rule. You will receive a response within the timeframes provided by the rule.

Thank you,

Matt J. Malone
Public Information Officer
Superior Court of California, Contra Costa County
mediainfo@contracosta.courts.ca.gov<mailto:mediainfo@contracosta.courts.ca.gov>

From: Criminal Clerk's Office, Superior Court of Contra Costa County of Contra Costa County

Good afternoon,

This email constitutes the Court's response to your request for judicial administrative records under Rule of Court 10.500. For the reasons below, the Court has no judicial administrative records responsive to your request.

The Court does not itself administratively track individual charges across all of its criminal cases. Under Rule of Court 10.500 (e)(1)(B), the Court is not required "to create any record or to compile or assemble data in response to a request for judicial administrative records if the judicial branch entity does not compile or assemble the data in the requested form for its own use or for provision to other agencies" though "... selecting data from extractable fields in a single database using software already owned or licensed by the judicial branch entity does not constitute creating a record or compiling or assembling data." But the Court does not maintain a database into which specific charges are entered by Penal Code section or subsection such that they are capable of being segregated and searched across cases over time to generate a list of all cases under that specific section/subsection. Even if it did, certain records would be subject to the legal protections identified in the next paragraph.

Because there is no method to ascertain this information from administrative records (e.g., a database), determining whether particular cases involved a violation of this particular Penal Code provision would require Court staff to review each case file, an effort not required under Rule 10.500 as these are adjudicative records. (See Cal. Rules of Ct., rule 10.500 (b)(1) [allowing access to administrative records]; (c)(1) [defining adjudicative records].) Separately, they are subject to statutory and rule-related protection from disclosure. Generally, the California Penal Code prohibits a local criminal justice agency, including the courts, from transmitting a record or information within a record to anyone not authorized by statute to receive it. (See Cal. Penal Code § 13302.) A "record" under this section is "local summary criminal history information,'' Cal. Pen. Code §13301(a), which includes records "pertaining to the identification and criminal history of any person, such as name, date of birth, physical description, dates of arrests, arresting agencies and booking numbers, charges, dispositions, and similar data about the person." (Cal. Penal Code §13300 (a)(1), emphasis added.) Separate rules bar transmission even of case information not covered by Penal Code section 13300 et seq. The Rules of Court prohibit bulk transmission of electronic data that includes case record information. Under Rule of Court 2.503(F), electronic access may only be granted on a case-by-case basis; under subsection (g), bulk distribution is limited to a calendar, register of actions, and index of a case. Where disclosure is barred by applicable law, as here, any such records are exempt from production under Rule 10.500. (See Cal. Rules of Ct., rule 10.500 (f)(5).)

Even without those prohibitions, as you can understand, the Court does not itself have the staffing capabilities to perform such a file-by-file review across thousands of criminal cases. In such a case, the public interest in disclosure would be greatly outweighed by the public interest in nondisclosure, given the substantial effort required which would compromise our clerks' ability to attend to their ordinary job duties. (See Cal. Rules of Ct., rule 10.500 (f)(12) [exempting Court from responding to records request where public interest in disclosure is outweighed by public interest in nondisclosure].)

For these reasons, the Court unfortunately has no administrative records responsive to this request. Thank you for your interest in the work of the Court.

Thank you,
Matt

Matt J. Malone
Public Information Officer
Superior Court of California, Contra Costa County
mediainfo@contracosta.courts.ca.gov<mailto:mediainfo@contracosta.courts.ca.gov>

From: Nazmul Ahasan

Dear Mr. Malone,

I have made the same requests to other superior courts across the Bay Area. Except for you, all other courts responded positively: either providing the records sought or seeking an extension.

Santa Clara County Court, for example, categorized court cases under "Disorderly Conduct: Distribute Intimate Photos", "Complaint", "Misdemeanor".

Surely, you would be able to filter cases by different categories, without going through every case ever filed.

Thank you,

Nazmul.

From: Criminal Clerk's Office, Superior Court of Contra Costa County of Contra Costa County

Good afternoon,

Thank you for your email. Courts use different case management systems and thus some may have an ability to produce data other courts cannot. As noted, Contra Costa Superior Court's case management system - which is an older, legacy system - does not have the capability to sort via a data entry point for specific Penal Code sections or charges such that we could recover a list of all criminal cases brought under a specific section in calendar year 2021. The Rule does not obligate the Court to create any record not otherwise obtainable from its existing databases, as noted in the response below.

If there is some other subset of data we could provide that would still assist you, I am happy to make efforts to do so. For example, broader categories of case filings (e.g., all misdemeanors) are provided for purposes of the Judicial Council's Court Statistics Report, see https://www.courts.ca.gov/documents/2021-Court-Statistics-Report.pdf, which would be the record that has such data. But as you will see there, we do not break those down by charge or Penal Code section nor do we have the current programmatic ability to do so.

Thank you,
Matt

Matt J. Malone
Public Information Officer
Superior Court of California, Contra Costa County
mediainfo@contracosta.courts.ca.gov<mailto:mediainfo@contracosta.courts.ca.gov>

From: Nazmul Ahasan

Hi Mr. Malone,

Thank you for the clarification.

Would you be able to provide the list of all misdemeanor case filings between January and February 2021?

Thank you.

From: Criminal Clerk's Office, Superior Court of Contra Costa County of Contra Costa County

Good morning,

We are in the process of converting to a new case management system which goes live today, Monday, March 28, so I would need some time to assess what data we might be able to pull as to misdemeanors from that system. Our previous system has been taken offline. Neither system would be able to produce data based on your original inquiry, or in a way that mirrors the data selection criteria you sampled from Santa Clara. But I will attempt to verify whether some other subset of data might be available and perhaps one that is closer than general misdemeanors. This will take some time, though, as our IT priority is directed solely to releasing the new system and troubleshooting internal and public access issues during the ensuing several weeks. I would be able to have a more detailed answer likely by the end of the first week of May, approximately May 6.

Thank you,
Matt

Matt J. Malone
Public Information Officer
Superior Court of California, Contra Costa County
mediainfo@contracosta.courts.ca.gov<mailto:mediainfo@contracosta.courts.ca.gov>

From: Criminal Clerk's Office, Superior Court of Contra Costa County of Contra Costa County

Good morning,

I have been working with our IT team following the conversion to the new case management system on March 28 to see what data we might provide responsive to your request once the system was live and we had been through our initial conversion quality control. I am pleased to say we were able to pull data responsive to your original request, specifically:

We are seeking a list of all the lawsuits or cases filed with the court under the California PENAL CODE 647(J)(4) between January 2021 to December 2021.
The attached report contains those cases filed under this Penal Code section in calendar 2021, obtained via a search in our Court's Odyssey case management system for cases with charges under that statute. Each sheet represents a particular courthouse (Martinez, Pittsburg, Richmond) and the final sheet is a total number. As noted in my initial response, release of certain information contained in the Court's case management system is prohibited by statute, even though it may be otherwise available from other sources (e.g., a request for copies of file documents from a specific case); it is therefore exempt from disclosure in a Rule 10.500 request. (See, e.g., Cal. Penal Code section 13300 et seq.; Cal. Rules of Ct., rule 10.500 (f)(5).)

Thank you for your patience as we worked through the conversion.

Thank you,
Matt

Matt J. Malone
Public Information Officer
Superior Court of California, Contra Costa County
mediainfo@contracosta.courts.ca.gov<mailto:mediainfo@contracosta.courts.ca.gov>

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