Filing Petition for Defendant's Arrest Documents In California

In Fairley v. Superior Court (1998) 66 Cal. App. 4th 1414, 1420, an individual filed a California Public Records Act request seeking documents relating to his arrest. (Fairley, supra, 66 Cal. App. 4th at p. 1417.) The trial court denied the petition, without prejudice, until the pending litigation between the California's Public Records Act requestor and the government agency was finally settled or adjudicated. (Id. at p. 1419.) The requestor filed a writ petition, claiming that the records were not exempt under the California Public Records Act. (Ibid.) The Fairley court, agreeing with the construction of the pending litigation exemption advocated by the court in City of Hemet (Fairley, supra, 66 Cal. App. 4th at p. 1421), held that "a public entity may refuse to disclose documents which it prepares for use in litigation." (Id. at p. 1422.) The court noted that "the construction we give to 'pending litigation,' which focuses on the purpose of the document, serves to protect documents created by a public entity for its own use in anticipation of litigation, which documents it reasonably has an interest in keeping to itself until litigation is finalized. In this way, a litigant opposing a public entity is prevented from taking unfair advantage of the public agency status of his or her opponent." (Id. at pp. 1421-1422.) In Fairley, the individual filing the California Public Records Act request sought public records relating to his arrest by a government agency. (Fairley, supra, 66 Cal. App. 4th at p. 1417.) In City of Hemet, a reporter sought documents involving an investigation into an officer's alleged misconduct. (City of Hemet, supra, 37 Cal. App. 4th at pp. 1415-1416.)