C. What records are and are not subject to the act?

All records of included agencies are subject to the CPRA unless the Legislature has expressly provided to the contrary. International Federation of Professional and Technical Eng. v. Superior Court, 42 Cal. 4th 319, 329, 64 Cal. Rptr. 3d 693, 165 P.3d 488 (2007); Williams v. Superior Court, 5 Cal. 4th 337, 346, 852 P.2d 377, 19 Cal. Rptr. 2d 882 (1993); County of Santa Clara v. Superior Court, 170 Cal. App. 4th 1301, 1320, 89 Cal. Rptr. 3d 374 (2009) (quoting BRV, Inc. v. Superior Court, 143 Cal. App. 4th 742, 751, 49 Cal. Rptr. 3d 519 (2006)).  "Public records" are broadly defined under the CPRA to include "any writing containing information relating to the conduct of the public's business prepared, owned, used, or retained by any state or local agency regardless of physical form or characteristics." Cal. Gov't Code § 6252 (e). As explained by one court, "[t]he mere custody of a writing by a public agency does not make it a public record, but if a record is kept by an officer because it is necessary or convenient to the discharge of his official duty, it is a public record." Braun v. City of Taft, 154 Cal. App. 3d 332, 340, 201 Cal. Rptr. 654 (1984); see also Cal. State Univ. v. Superior Court, 90 Cal. App. 4th 810, 824, 108 Cal. Rptr. 2d 870 (2001). Citing with approval an even broader definition of public records adopted by the Attorney General, another court has stated:

'This definition is intended to cover every conceivable kind of record that is involved in the governmental process and will pertain to any new form of record-keeping instrument as it is developed. Only purely personal information unrelated to 'the conduct of the public's business' could be considered exempt from this definition, i.e., the shopping list phoned from home, the letter to a public officer from a friend which is totally void of reference to governmental activities.'

San Gabriel Tribune v. Superior Court, 143 Cal. App. 3d 762, 774, 192 Cal. Rptr. 415, 422 (1983) (internal citations omitted); see also Versaci v. Superior Court, 127 Cal. App. 4th 805, 813, 26 Cal. Rptr. 3d 92 (2005) (quoting Coronado Police Officers Ass'n v. Carroll, 106 Cal. App. 4th 1001, 1006, 131 Cal. Rptr. 2d 553 (2003) (citing with approval same definition)).

Nor do the records necessarily have to be in the agency’s custody to be a public records as the CPRA applies to records prepared, owned or used by the agency. Cal. Gov’t Code § 6252(e). 

The definition of public records has been held not to include a database compiled and maintained by county public defender's office which primarily consisted of information from client files, as well as public records, because the core function of the records was to aid the public defender's office in representing indigent clients, which was a private function, not public. Coronado Police Officers Ass'n v. Carroll, 106 Cal. App. 4th 1001, 1008, 131 Cal. Rptr. 2d 553 (2003). Moreover, records maintained by a county auditor-controller for the court pursuant to contract whereby the county manages the court's budgetary and financial matters and where the contract provided that all documents shall remain the property of the court were held to fall outside the provisions of the CPRA as the courts are not subject to the CPRA. Orange County Employees Ass'n v. Superior Court, 120 Cal. App. 4th 287, 209, 15 Cal. Rptr. 3d 201 (2004); but see Crews v. Superior Court, 31 Med. L. Rptr. 1890 (Cal. App. Ct. 2003, unpublished) (holding that records used and retained by county in managing the court's finances pursuant to contract fell within the definition of public records and were required to be disclosed under CPRA).

"'Public records' in the custody of, or maintained by, the Governor's office means any writing prepared on or after January 6, 1975." Cal. Gov't Code § 6252(e).