City Attorney Mike Aguirre must make available a host of records requested under the California Public Records Act, a Superior Court judge tentatively ruled today.

The tentative ruling, issued by Judge David B. Oberhotzer, concerns requests for records made by local attorney, Judith Copeland, in August and September 2007. Under the California Public Records Act, citizens of California can request public documents and sue if a public agency does not provide them.

Aguirre said the records request was voluminous. Copeland asked for so many records that meeting the request would have taken up too much public time, he said. But the city attorney said he will fully abide by the judge’s ruling.

“It will take a couple of attorneys at least several months to get it all done,” he said. “But we’re going to do it.”

According to court records, Copeland’s initial records request, sent to Aguirre on Aug. 28, 2007, asked for various public records over the previous 12 months.

Copeland asked for: Aguirre’s phone records; a record of the current clients of the city attorney; records of lawsuits alleging Aguirre has caused a hostile work environment; records of communication between Aguirre and a number of local lawyers and activists; and records of communication between the City Attorney’s Office and the Mayor’s Office and the City Council.

Over the next few months, court records show, correspondence between Copeland and the City Attorney’s Office grew increasingly heated, with Copeland writing several times that her request was being ignored or delayed and city attorneys asking Copeland to narrow her request and to better define the terms within it.

Court records show Copeland eventually dropped or narrowed some of her requests, but maintained that other records should be produced, including “copies of all communications from Mike Aguirre to the mayor or anyone in the mayor’s office and to any member of the city council or anyone in the office of a city council concerning any docket or the preparation of a docket since Jan. 1, 2007.”

Those records will now be made available, said Robert Walters, a deputy city attorney who worked on the case.

“We want to make a good faith effort to do what the judge wants and give him an idea of how much is out there,” Walters said.

Aguirre has positioned himself as a champion of transparency in government. He has consistently used the Public Records Act to request documents for his own investigations.

The ruling can be read here.


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