FAP provides articles and guides intended to help citizens and journalist through the process of obtaining public records and public information from state and public agencies and court systems.
THE STORM THAT MIGHT BLOW AWAY DEMOCRACY by James Wheaton
Protecting your secrets and keeping your promises
Access to public records is an issue for citizens at the state and federal level. In order to aid citizens and organizations in gaining access, FAP provides the following guides to help you navigate the California Public Records Act (CAPRA) and the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).
The First Amendment brings with it the right to access to certain court proceedings and court records. Please check out our guide to learn more about your First Amendment rights to court access.
There are two acts that provide open access to public meetings: the Brown Act and the Bagley-Keene Open Meeting Act. If you have questions about access to public meetings, please review the text of these two acts as well as FAP’s guide to the Brown Act.
Protecting Information: California Shield Law
The California Shield Law provides legal protections to journalists seeking to maintain the confidentiality of an unnamed source or unpublished information obtained during newsgathering. The Shield Law protects a “publisher, editor, reporter, or other person connected with or employed unpon a newspaper, magazine, or other periodical publication, or by a press association or wire service” and a “radio or television news reporter or other person connected with or employed by a radio or television station.” The Shield Law also likely applies to stringers, freelancers, and perhaps authors.
The United States and California constitutions grant every person the right to participate in government and civic affairs, speak freely on public issues, and petition government officials for redress of grievances. Yet, individuals and community groups are often sued for exercising these constitutional rights. These suits are known as “SLAPPs,” or “Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation.”
If you believe that you have been SLAPPed, then you’ll want to review FAP’s guide for SLAPP victims.
Environmental Advocacy and Defamation
This guide is designed to provide a basic understanding of the law regarding publication liability—most notably defamation law—and offer a set of best practices to help environmental advocacy organizations avoid being sued and respond appropriately if they are sued. It is not a substitute for legal advice. Environmental advocacy organizations should strongly consider consulting with a First Amendment attorney before releasing publications or embarking on public relations campaigns.