Santa Clara County Medical Examiner-Coroner case details

Matt Kiefer filed this request with the coroners office of Santa Clara County, CA.
Status
Completed

Communications

From: Matt Kiefer

To Whom It May Concern:

Please consider this a Public Records Act request for case records dating back to Nov. 1, 2019. Please respond with the following information for each case:
- case number
- date of death
- race
- ethnicity
- age
- gender
- location (e.g. home zip code of decedent)
- cause(s) of death (indicating if COVID related)
- any other non-exempt information contained in case records

Per CA PRA 6253.1, please describe the information technology used to maintain these records, to the extent that it may assist in producing a focused and effective request. In the alternative, please simply provide the data in spreadsheet format pursuant to CA PRA 6253.9.

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.

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.

--
Matt Kiefer
John S. Knight Journalism Fellow 
Stanford University
312-804-5648

From: coroners office

Good afternoon Mr. Kiefer,

Please see attached response to your request below.
Best regards,

Cindy Gallego-SR. Office Specialist

[MEC LOGO]
Medical Examiner-Coroner’s Office
County of Santa Clara

850 Thornton Way
San Jose, CA 95128
Direct line: 408-793-1932
Main line: 408-793-1900
Fax: 408-793-1934

From: Matt Kiefer

Thank you for the response. I have to point out that the request specified records in a spreadsheet format, but the county delivered a PDF image file. As noted in the original request, CPRA 6253.9 states: "The agency shall make the information available in any electronic format in which it holds the information."

I've included the full text of 6253.9 below for reference. Please respond with the same information in spreadsheet format (e.g. .xlsx, .xls, .csv or .txt), which is clearly the original format of this file. Thank you again.

6253.9. (a) Unless otherwise prohibited by law, any agency that has information that constitutes an identifiable public record not exempt from disclosure pursuant to this chapter that is in an electronic format shall make that information available in an electronic format when requested by any person and, when applicable, shall comply with the following:
(1) The agency shall make the information available in any electronic format in which it holds the information.
(2) Each agency shall provide a copy of an electronic record in the format requested if the requested format is one that has been used by the agency to create copies for its own use or for provision to other agencies. The cost of duplication shall be limited to the direct cost of producing a copy of a record in an electronic format.
(b) Notwithstanding paragraph (2) of subdivision (a), the requester shall bear the cost of producing a copy of the record, including the cost to construct a record, and the cost of programming and computer services necessary to produce a copy of the record when either of the following applies:
(1) In order to comply with the provisions of subdivision (a), the public agency would be required to produce a copy of an electronic record and the record is one that is produced only at otherwise regularly scheduled intervals.
(2) The request would require data compilation, extraction, or programming to produce the record.
(c) Nothing in this section shall be construed to require the public agency to reconstruct a record in an electronic format if the agency no longer has the record available in an electronic format.
(d) If the request is for information in other than electronic format, and the information also is in electronic format, the agency may inform the requester that the information is available in electronic format.
(e) Nothing in this section shall be construed to permit an agency to make information available only in an electronic format.
(f) Nothing in this section shall be construed to require the public agency to release an electronic record in the electronic form in which it is held by the agency if its release would jeopardize or compromise the security or integrity of the original record or of any proprietary software in which it is maintained.
(g) Nothing in this section shall be construed to permit public access to records held by any agency to which access is otherwise restricted by statute.
(Added by Stats. 2000, Ch. 982, Sec. 2. Effective January 1, 2001.)

--
Matt Kiefer
John S. Knight Journalism Fellow
Stanford University
312-804-5648

From:

Mr. Kiefer,

The Medical Examiner-Coroner’s Office is unable to release the record in an Excel format because doing so would jeopardize or compromise the security or integrity of the original record (see Government Code section 6253.9(f)). In particular, the highly sensitive content could be manipulated or altered without the public knowing such manipulations/alterations had occurred.

Thank you.

Julia

[cid:image001.png@01D2FF10.0FC08300]
Julia B. Spiegel | Deputy County Counsel
Office of the County Counsel, County of Santa Clara
70 West Hedding Street, East Wing, 9th Floor | San José, CA 95110
Office: (408) 299-5949 | Mobile: (408) 310-8750
julia.spiegel@cco.sccgov.org<mailto:julia.spiegel@cco.sccgov.org>

NOTICE TO RECIPIENT: The information in this email is confidential and may be protected by the attorney-client and/or work product privileges. If you received this email in error, any review, use, dissemination, distribution, or copying of it is strictly prohibited. Please notify Administration, Office of the County Counsel, of the error immediately at 408-299-5900 and delete this communication and any attached documents from your system.

From: Matt Kiefer

Ms. Spiegel,

Thank you for your response. This request seeks copies of records. It does not request original records, or access to "systems of record" that would in any way compromise the security or integrity of the original record. Original records and systems of record are possessed by the county and maintained by county systems as separately defined in 6270.5(c)(2).

Delivering spreadsheet copies of records does not expose original records to manipulation or alteration, in the same way that delivering PDF copies of records does not expose original records to manipulation or alteration.

There are two main differences between PDF and spreadsheet formats in the context of this request:
- PDFs make it more difficult for the public to quantify and understand the public record.
- PDFs are not a legally valid format under 6253.9 when the requester asks for copies in a spreadsheet format and the agency holds the information as such.

Please respond with a spreadsheet copy of the record as required by 6253.9 of the California Public Records Act. If the county prefers to include a PDF copy in addition to a spreadsheet copy, we will accept both copies.

Thank you again.

--
Matt Kiefer
John S. Knight Journalism Fellow
Stanford University
312-804-5648

From: coroners office

Mr. Kiefer,

Pursuant to Government Code section 6253.9(f)), the County is not able to produce the record you seek in a spreadsheet format. This statutory provision provides that an agency need not release a record in the electronic form in which it is held by the agency “if its release would jeopardize or compromise the security or integrity of the original record.” Here, providing the responsive record in a spreadsheet format would jeopardize and compromise the security of the record and the system on which it is stored. As a result, the record need not be produced in electronic form. As you noted in your May 11, 2020 response, the County has already provided you with a PDF copy of the requested record. Consequently, the County is deeming this request closed.

Thank you.

Julia

[cid:image001.png@01D2FF10.0FC08300]
Julia B. Spiegel | Deputy County Counsel
Office of the County Counsel, County of Santa Clara
70 West Hedding Street, East Wing, 9th Floor | San José, CA 95110
Office: (408) 299-5949 | Mobile: (408) 310-8750
julia.spiegel@cco.sccgov.org<mailto:julia.spiegel@cco.sccgov.org>

NOTICE TO RECIPIENT: The information in this email is confidential and may be protected by the attorney-client and/or work product privileges. If you received this email in error, any review, use, dissemination, distribution, or copying of it is strictly prohibited. Please notify Administration, Office of the County Counsel, of the error immediately at 408-299-5900 and delete this communication and any attached documents from your system.

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