CPRA lawsuit filed against UC Berkeley for records related to ICE, Urban Shield, far-right groups, Amazon, Occupy the Farm, and other topics
A California Public Records Act (“CPRA”) lawsuit was filed in Alameda County Superior Court against the University of California, Berkeley to obtain records on a number of subjects, including the University’s communication with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”), the University’s role in Urban Shield, the University’s response to the Occupy the Farm movement, the University’s relationship with Amazon, the University’s efforts to obtain military equipment from the federal government, and the University’s response to far-right groups on campus.
Find a copy of the lawsuit here.
The lawsuit was filed by Camille Fassett, a reporter with the Freedom of the Press Foundation and researcher at Lucy Parsons Labs. Fassett documents press freedom violations and writes on issues related to privacy, surveillance, and law enforcement abuses.
I am co-counseling the case along with attorney Anna von Herrmann.
Upon the filing of a public records request, the CPRA requires a public agency to locate and provide records “promptly.” Cal. Gov’t Code § 6253(b). It is unlawful for an agency to delay or obstruct the inspection of public records. Cal. Gov’t Code § 6253(d). An agency’s internal logistical problems or general neglect of its duties is not a defense to obstruction of access under the CPRA. Community Youth Athletic Center v. City of National City (2013) 220 Cal.App.4th 1385, 1446-1447.
At issue in the suit are a number of PRA requests Fassett first submitted to UC Berkeley in the fall of 2017. In response, UC Berkeley neither located nor produced responsive records. Rather, in the months that followed, UC Berkeley responded with a mix of boilerplate emails, long delays, and non-responses. In so doing, UC Berkeley denied access to records of significant public interest which touch on many of the critical issues of our time, including collaboration between ICE and local government, the militarization of law enforcement, the repression of student activists, the influence of capital at public universities, and the response of public institutions to the far-right.