National Conference of Black Mayors v. Chico Community Publishing

January 24, 2018

Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson and the National Conference of Black Mayors (NCBM) filed a reverse-California Public Records Act (CPRA) lawsuit to block the release of records requested by the Sacramento News & Review (SN&R) related to Johnson's use of public resources for his work as president of the NCBM. Though the SN&R ultimately obtained hundreds of pages of records through the litigation, the trial court denied the paper's motion seeking attorneys' fees. SN&R appealed, arguing that it is entitled to attorneys fees under the mandatory fee-shifting provision of the CPRA. The Reporters Committee and 14 media organizations filed an amicus brief supporting SN&R's appeal of the fee denial. In it, RCFP argues that California law does not permit reverse-CPRA actions and that the appeals court should award SN&R attorneys' fees to discourage public agencies and officials from bringing preemptive lawsuits through third-party groups that limit disclosure of public records and reduce transparency in government.