A temporary restraining order is a 'public record' for purposes of Gov

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A temporary restraining order is a 'public record' for purposes of Gov Powered By Docstoc
					A temporary restraining order is a "public record" for purposes of Gov. Code, § 6201
(altering public record). Thus, defendant's conviction of violating § 6201 was not
improper, where he had obtained an ex parte order enjoining his former girlfriend from
contacting or harassing him, and had added false requirements to the order before filing it
with the marshal. The signed, genuine order defendant obtained from the judge was,
when obtained, part of a court file. Defendant altered an original court record which had
been stamped with a case number and the day and date and signed by a judge, although
thereafter it was to be returned to the clerk's office for filing and obtaining of conformed
copies of the original for further use. Court records are public records, and the
documents in a court file are public records. People v Parks (1992, 4th Dist) 7 Cal App
4th 883, 9 Cal Rptr 2d 450.


Under prior case authority, "there can be no doubt that HN4 court records are public
records" ( Estate of Hearst (1977) 67 Cal.App.3d 777, 782 [136 Cal.Rptr. 821]) and
the documents in a court file are "public records." ( People v. McKenna (1953) 116
Cal.App.2d 207, 211 [255 P.2d 452].) n3 When Parks obtained and then falsified this
public record he committed the offense proscribed by Government Code sections
6200- 6201. For this reason we reject his contention to the contrary.

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n3 See also The Copley Press, Inc. v. Superior Court (1992) 6 Cal.App.4th 106, 111-
115 [7 Cal.Rptr.2d 841].


Although the California Public Records Act (Gov. Code, §§ 6250ff.) does not apply to
court records (see § 6252, subd. (a)), there can be no doubt that HN1 court records
are public records, n2 available to the public in general, including news reporters,
unless a specific exception makes specific records nonpublic. (See Craemer v.
Superior Court [**824] (1968) 265 Cal.App.2d 216, 220-222 [71 Cal.Rptr. 193].)
To prevent secrecy in public affairs public policy makes public records and
documents available for [***7] public inspection by newsmen and members of the
general public alike. ( Craemer, supra, at p. 222; Bruce v. Gregory (1967) 65 Cal.2d
666, 677 [*783] [56 Cal.Rptr. 265, 423 P.2d 193].) Statutory exceptions exist
(see e.g., exemptions under Gov. Code, § 6254; see also list of statutory exceptions
in Craemer, supra, at pp. 220-221, fn. 4), as do judicially created exceptions,
generally temporary in nature, exemplified by such cases as Craemer, supra, and
Rosato v. Superior Court (1975) 51 Cal.App.3d 190 [124 Cal.Rptr. 427], which
involved temporary sealing of grand jury transcripts during criminal trials to protect
defendant's right to a fair trial free from adverse advance publicity. Clearly, a court
has inherent power to control its own records to protect rights of litigants before it,
but "where there is no contrary statute or countervailing public policy, the right to
inspect public records must be freely allowed." ( Craemer, supra, 265 Cal.App.2d at
p. 222.) The court in Craemer suggested that countervailing public policy might
come into play as a result of events that tend to undermine individual security,
personal liberty, or private [***8] property, or that injure the public or the public
good.
Copley Press, Inc. v. Superior Court, 6 Cal. App. 4th 106
The fact that there is no specific statutory requirement for access to court
documents does not, of course, permit exclusion of the public from same. Both the
federal (First Amendment to the United States Constitution) and the state (article I,
section 2(a), California Constitution) Constitutions provide broad access rights to
judicial hearings and records. A lengthy list of authorities confirms this right in
general, and in particular as it pertains to the press, both in criminal and civil cases.
n4 The leading case [***8] on the subject in California, Estate of Hearst, supra,
67 Cal.App.3d 777 confirms that HN3 notwithstanding the statutory exception in the
California Public Records Act [*112] (Gov. Code, § 6250 et seq.) court records
are public records open to inspection. ( Estate of Hearst, supra, at p. 782.) While the
courts have an inherent right to control their own records, preclusion from public
inspection should be permitted only upon a showing that revelation would "tend to
undermine individual security, personal liberty, or private property, or ... injure the
public or the public good." ( at p. 783.)

				
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