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New 5-24-03, updated 10-27-08, 5-8-09, 3-20-10, 1-30-12, 6-13-12, 1-18-13:
Getting Government Records

( Subpoenas, Discovery, Public Records Act Requests, Hearsay, Traffic Accident Stats )

The answer to the questions we never ask is always "no."
(Good advice to a red light camera ticket defendant, from his wife.)


When you ask for records, a few cities provide the info without too much of a fuss.   But many cities throw up all  kinds of barriers, wasting a lot of their time, and taxpayers' money, in an infantile game of "Keep Away."  


Asking Nicely


At least one police department will email you a copy of the photos and the video, just because you phoned them and asked!  Maybe that idea will catch on with other departments.  When you phone "your" PD (the # is usually on the back of the ticket) you'll probably  get an answering machine;  you could leave your request, and your email address, on the machine. 

Many police departments have a website that has all the photos and video on it.  You go to the website, identify yourself by typing in the ticket # and the license plate #, and you get to see the video.  Keep in mind, though, that it may not be the full 12 seconds of the video, or may have a reduced resolution compared to their official copy.

Some other cities go out of their way to try to keep you from getting the photos.  Most employ delaying tactics, to grind you down, wear you out.  Some go further, and might tell you (verbally only, never in writing) things like, "Legally, we cannot give you a copy."
If someone said that to me, I would be tempted to ask them either (a), "Would you write me a note saying that?" or (b), "Could you show me the law that says that?" or (c), Would you please repeat that after I start my tape recorder?"

Some cities issue tickets that don't display the Late Time, even though their Nestor systems clearly have the capability to do so.   Other cities, those that are served by ACS, issue tickets with illegible Late Times.  A possible motive for these cities to hide the Late Times could be so that they can cite for very short Late Times (like 0.1 second) without widespread criticism (including some from judges) about "Mickey Mouse" tickets.    If you phone the PD to ask what your Late Time was, they may say that to get that information, you must come in to the police station.  The visit to the police station serves to grind you down, make it harder for you to fight your ticket. See Defect # 5 and the big How to Read Your Late Time box in Defect # 7 for more information. 


Discovery


Discovery is the process by which you are allowed to get, in advance, a copy of everything the city plans to use against you at your trial - including the photos and video!  (Sometimes the city's website where they direct you to go to look at the photos from your ticket does not contain all the photos they have!  And, the website photos will be of lower resolution than the originals.)  If you are thinking about fighting your ticket, you should definitely file a Discovery request - without delay.  Filing a Discovery request puts an end to many - but not all - of the city's delaying tactics.
 

 
Fight Your Ticket tells how to write and serve a Discovery (for the page numbers, see my FYT Addenda page and in the 14th Edition of FYT also see "Discovery" in FYT's index), but please note -

(1)
Timing:  I strongly recommend that you FILE WITHOUT DELAY.  Ideally, you should file for Discovery at least 20 days before your arraignment.  The latest date to file is generally 30 days before the trial date.

Is It Ever Too Early to Ask for Discovery?

Some authorities have been telling traffic ticket defendants that they cannot request discovery until they have been arraigned and have entered their plea.  Baloney!

Since the statutes (laws) regulating the Discovery process (Penal Code Section 1054) do not tell us how early we may request discovery, we must look to other sources:

1.  The authoritative California Criminal Defense Practice, by Matthew Bender (available at every law library), says:

"Neither Penal Code Section 1054.5(b) nor Section 1054.7, nor any other provision within Sections 1054 through 1054.7 specifies when informal discovery may first be requested, nor do any of these provisions prohibit the parties from requesting informal discovery at the time of arrest, or at the time of the filing of a criminal complaint, or at the time an indictment is filed, well before any arraignment or entry of plea has taken place."  (Bender, Section 70.09[1][b] )

2.  One Superior Court has published Discovery rules saying:  "An informal discovery request can be made anytime after a case is filed."  (See San Mateo local rules, in box below.)
 

(2) The format:  Your Discovery request does not need to be on the official-looking form shown in Fight Your Ticket, or any other official form - these requests are most often done informally, via an ordinary business letter (see sample below, in the bluish 'wallpaper' area of this page).

(3) Who to serve: 
Although it is technically incorrect, many cities tell defendants (verbally, or in writing) to serve their Discovery on the policeHere's an example from one such city:

(These rules are provided by highwayrobbery.net solely as an example of local court rules.  Some of these rules may not be correct, or proper.)


COUNTY OF SAN MATEO - LOCAL COURT RULES

Rule 9.9 Traffic Pre-Trial Discovery Motions. An informal discovery request can be made anytime after a case is filed.

1.    The defendant or his/her attorney must make this request in writing and the original is to be filed with the police agency that issued the citation.  [[[Editor's note:  May not be correct, or proper.]]]

2.    The citing police agency has 15 days to respond and provide the requested material and information.

3.    A copy of the informal request shall be filed with the District Attorney’s Office [[[Editor's note:  May not be correct, or proper]]] who in turn will provide the Court Clerk’s office Traffic Division with a copy of the request.

4.    If the police agency does not respond to the request within 15 days of service, the defendant may seek a court order to compel Discovery.

5.    The motion to compel discovery must be filed at the earliest possible date and at least five court days prior to the trial date. Written notice must be served on all parties at least five court days prior to the hearing. The original written motion to compel discovery and the proposed order should be filed in the Court Clerk’s office Traffic Division with a copy served on the police agency that issued the citation and the District Attorney’s Office. The motion should indicate a hearing date that is before the trial date.

From Santa Mateo County Local Court Rules, amended July 1, 2007, online at: http://www.sanmateocourt.org/localrules/July_2007.pdf

(These rules are provided by highwayrobbery.net solely as an example of local court rules.  Some of these rules may not be correct, or proper.  To look for local rules in another county, look on the website for that county's courts.)

Again, a requirement to serve the police is incorrect.  The law regulating the Discovery process (Penal Code Section 1054), which applies in every California county, imposes the duty to provide Discovery to you upon the "prosecuting attorney."   That law does not impose that duty upon the police, as their role in the matter is actually as a witness.   My advice is:  A copy of your request must go to the city prosecutor or city attorney at City Hall, or to whatever attorney is prosecuting you;  it's usually not the district attorney.  If you are at all unsure as to which attorney to serve - the city attorney, or the city prosecutor, or the district attorney - don't waste any time or phone calls trying to figure it out.  It is faster and easier to just serve all of them!  It should be noted that some cities, including some large ones, don't have a city prosecutor. 

Pass the buck!
DA, or city prosecutor?  Some cities work at deceiving you as to who to serve.

While the law does not require you to file a copy of your informal Discovery request with anyone other than the prosecuting attorney, some judges don't seem to understand that - so also send a copy to the court.  And, if your court is actually publishing written rules saying that you must serve the police (see San Mateo example, above), serve the police, too.

So, for those who don't want to spend a lot of time researching exactly who to mail to, here is the mailing list:
City Attorney, City Hall, (street address of city hall), City, State, Zip.
City Prosecutor,
City Hall, (street address of city hall), City, State, Zip.
Traffic Unit, Police Department (or Sheriff Dept.), (street address of station), City, State, Zip.
Superior Court Traffic Division, (street address of court as shown on your ticket), City, State, Zip.
Discovery Unit, District Attorney, (street address of his main office in the county seat), City, State, Zip.

Again, I strongly recommend that you FILE WITHOUT DELAY. 

(4)  How to serve it:  You don't need to send someone down to city hall to make personal service of your informal Discovery request.  While the minimum requirement is to mail it First Class and have an adult friend sign a Proof of Service, I recommend that you send the prosecuting attorney his copy twice, once by fax (program your machine to print out a 'confirmer'), and once by Certified Mail, Return Receipt requested, with a Proof of Service signed by a friend.  If you use mail to send the judge his (optional) copy, get a Return Receipt.  Put your various proofs of service in your case file (do not mail them to the court, or file them there, as they could get lost), and bring them with you to every court appearance, because the prosecuting attorney (if he shows up at all) will almost always claim that he/she didn't receive your Discovery request.

(5)  If the prosecuting attorney doesn't reply within 15 days (20 days if you served the Discovery by mail), you will need to take further action.  See the "Dealing with..." section, below.

(6)  Discovery goes both ways. If you ask for Discovery, you also have to give it.  You have to tell the prosecuting attorney who your witnesses will be, and you have to disclose the evidence you plan to use at the trial.

In summary:

Get it done right away (don't spend any time looking for a special form).  Serve everyone in sight.  Get good proof of service.  And mark your calendar to follow up in three weeks.


The Sample Discovery Letter

  The sample Discovery letter is below, in the bluish "wallpaper" area.   You can add to it, or edit it down, but the last numbered  item (Item 17), where you provide Discovery to the prosecution, is not optional.  So don't edit it out!

If you just want to get a copy of the photos or the video, and quickly, you could edit the sample letter down to just a request for those photos, Item 5 in the sample letter.  (You will still need to answer Item 17.)  The limited request might get you a quicker reply than asking for all fifteen items!  If you already have an  appointment to go view the pictures, you could try handing the officer your discovery toward the end of that visit.  Maybe he or she will make a copy for you on the spot - take a blank CD with you.

Dealing with the City's Response to Your Discovery

The way some cities reply to Discoveries is a clear attempt to grind you down, run you around, and in general keep you so busy trying to get the information that you won't have the time or energy to really analyze it (assuming you are able to get it at all).

Most often the reply will come from someone at the police department.  And his or her reply may tell you that you need to contact other city personnel to obtain some of the information you asked for.  Well, one department of the city is not supposed to slip out of supplying the information by passing you along to another department.  You sent your Discovery to the city attorney, and he is supposed to get all of his city departments to supply the information.  You don't have to make separate inquiries with each department.  A ridiculous example of this delaying tactic is where the police tell you to contact the city attorney - the person to whom you sent your request in the first place - for a copy of whatever you were asking for.  And the most ridiculous example of a delaying tactic was a city attorney who told a defendant that the city didn't handle Discovery requests, and that the defendant would have to obtain the information from the courthouse.

Some cities try very hard to avoid supplying you with a copy of the violation photos and/or video.  In their reply to your Discovery request they use wording designed to give you the impression that the only way you can see the photos is to view them at the police department.  That is total baloney!  Under Discovery, they must give you a copy.  
I have also heard that in one county, some court personnel - including one judge - have been telling defendants that Discovery is not available for traffic tickets (which are the lowest level of criminal offense, infractions).  More baloney!  Penal Code Section 19.7 says:  "
Except as otherwise provided by law, all provisions of law relating to misdemeanors shall apply to infractions..."

If the photos/video are digital (most are, nowadays), ask them to email them to you (the file size will be around  2 MB) or put it on a CD. 
You are entitled to get a copy of the same clarity, or "generation," that they plan to use in court.   If they discover a low resolution copy of the photos to you and then at court they try to use a high resolution copy, I suggest that you object to their use of it.  Likewise, if they send you anything less than the full 12 seconds of the video.

If you have received an unsatisfactory answer (or none) to your Discovery request, telephone AND fax the city attorney a request to talk about the Discovery.  Give him 24 hours to respond.  If he blows you off, or continues to delay, file a motion.  There is an example in Fight Your Ticket.
I may have an example of such a motion available - so that you will not have to type the whole thing out.

Also see the Nov. 2011 Blumenthal decision, on my case index page.

Another resource is the Discovery materials at helpigotaticket.com.

"Best Evidence" 

Here's my untested (by me) theory of what to do if you've had a low res. copy of the video (or other photos) discovered to you.  (Or if the officer  is testifying about the contents of a key document, but hasn't produced an actual copy of that document.)  There's a rule called "Best Evidence."  It means that at court they have to submit their sharpest photo, not some fuzzy copy.   Or, if they are submitting a document, they have to provide the uncondensed version of it, not a summary of it or a memo about it.  There's also the rule that if they don't discover something to you in advance, they can't use it at trial.  My idea would be to object to their use of the sharper video, since it is different from what was discovered to you, and probably contains a lot more information than the fuzzy one.  If the judge throws out the high resolution copy, the police have no evidence against you, unless they are quick on their feet and submit a lower res. copy as their evidence - or even refer to your low res. copy, the one they have discovered.  But if they tried to do that, I would object to the admission of the low res. copy, under Best Evidence.
(For more info about Best Evidence, Google "best evidence" California rule.  But beware of any Internet material that cites Evidence Code Sections 1500 - 1519 - such material would be outdated as 1500 - 1519 were replaced by Section 1520 and up, several years ago, and it was re-named "The Secondary Evidence Rule.")

  

Subpoenas

If you need a document for court and it's not among the types of documents that you can obtain via Discovery, a Subpoena Duces Tecum is the way to get it.  For court purposes, you can not rely on a Public Records Act request - there is no quick way to enforce the deadlines.

A significant advantage of a Subpoena Duces Tecum  is that it can be done close to the trial date.  A disadvantage is that the attorney for the City whose documents you're asking for may file a motion to "quash" your subpoena, claiming that the documents you've asked for are not relevant to the question of whether you ran the light.  Thus, you need to tailor your subpoena carefully, to only ask for documents that you believe you can prove are relevant.  (This contrasts with a Public Records Act request, which carries no "relevance" test.)   An additional disadvantage of using a subpoena is that you are not likely to get to see the documents until the day of your trial. 

Although it is not required, I recommend that you staple your subpoena to a "blue back" (available at some stationery stores, or you can make one) so that whoever you serve with the subpena will be less likely to lose track of it in the big pile of paperwork on their desk.  The blue back will also make it less likely that that person will accidentally lose the last page or some other critical page of your subpoena.

For subpoenas, use the latest form from the forms page of the Judicial Council of California (the latest form as of Sept. 9, 2007 is CR-125 ), and then use Fight Your Ticket and the following additional info, for guidance.

CR-125 Form - Additional Important Info

The CR-125 form came out in July 2007 and is very different from previous forms - It doesn't ask you to provide a statement justifying your request for the materials.

On the CR-125 form, at the bottom of page 1, there is a 1" by 1" box labeled "For court use only."  This box is for the window clerk to stamp his seal.  While someone may tell you that it is not necessary to have the subpoenas stamped, I strongly recommend that you do so. The easiest way to get stamped subpoena forms is to ask the court clerk to mail some to you - if you have time.  Otherwise, go visit the courthouse.

Also, the form doesn't make it perfectly clear who is to sign at the bottom of page 1.  Is it the defendant, or is it the court clerk who stamped the subpoena for you?  Some court clerks think that they are supposed to sign.   I think it is the defendant.  If you have asked the court clerk for subpoena forms, and the clerk has signed them at the bottom, I recommend that you place your signature down there too.  And put your title, "in pro per," after your signature.

Finally, it is important to serve the subpoena on the right person.  It's supposed to be the "Custodian of Records."  If you are asking for police department records, it will be a supervisor or department head at the police department.  If you are asking for city records that are not kept by the police (for example, a copy of the contract that the city council signed with the camera company), the right person to serve will usually be the city clerk.   See Fight Your Ticket for more details.  


Public Records Act Requests

Filing a request under the California Public Records Act (Government Code Section 6250, the "CPRA") is an easy way to get documents from a government agency, but it's not always the recommended way if you need those documents for a court appearance because the traffic court cannot force the city to comply with a public records request, whereas it can enforce your Discovery and subpoenas (although quite reluctantly).

6250. In enacting this chapter, the Legislature, mindful of the right of individuals to privacy, finds and declares that access to information concerning the conduct of the people's business is a fundamental and necessary right of every person in this state. (Emphasis added.)

To view the rest of the CPRA, click:  Gov. Code 6250-6270.

You can file a CPRA request anytime and as often as you want - whether or not you have a case pending in court.  CPRA requests can be filed by mail, by fax, by email, or in person.  The government agency is required to reply within 10 days, although they have the right to notify you that it will take them some extra time (and frequently do so).

Confine your request to a reasonable number of documents - government agencies can refuse to comply with a request if doing so would be "burdensome" to them.

Under the CPRA it doesn't matter why you want the documents.  There is no "relevance" test, like there is with a subpoena.

Under the CPRA you can go to the government offices and look at the documents you inquired about, for free.  But if you want copies to take home with you, you will  have to pay roughly 10 to 20 cents a page for the copying.   (If you plan to use those documents in court, you should ask the city clerk or the custodian of records to certify them.)

About Certification

Certification is a rubber stamp, or an embossed seal, that the city clerk or custodian of records puts on your copy of the document, saying that it is a true copy of the original on file at their offices. On the stamp there's usually a blank for him or her to sign. I have noticed that even though I request cities to certify something, they often forget. So, when the copy is ready, I suggest that rather than having it mailed to you, you go pick it up so you can make sure that the certification has been done. They will charge 10 to 20 cents a page for making the copy, and they may charge a fee for doing the certification.

The box immediately below contains a detailed discussion of copying cost.  Refer to it if you feel that the government agency is overcharging you for copying documents.


Computing the Cost of Copies in California 


A citizen's viewpoint on the "Direct Cost of Duplication" per Cal. Gov. Code  Sec. 6253(b) and California Attorney General's letter dated 4-11-91 to State Senator Hart.

If I come to the public counter and ask to look at a document and then read it at the counter, I know of no agency that would charge me a fee to do so - I can inspect the document for free.  The clerk's effort to retrieve the record from the file, review it to edit out any "non-public" portions, and bring it to me at the counter so I can read it, is supposed to be free.

If, after I have inspected the document at the counter I then ask the clerk to make me a copy to take home, that starts the clock for "direct costs of duplication" - the agency can charge me for the clerk's time while he or she is taking the document from me at the counter over to the copier, running it, and returning to the counter - plus the "per copy" cost for paper, toner, maintenance and electricity for the machine.


Sample Computation of the Cost of Copies from First and Additional Originals


Assumptions:  Copy machine warm-up/set-up time of .5 minute, time to position or "feed" each original .15 minute, clerical time cost (salary + benefits) of $0.75 per minute ($45.00 per hour), per-sheet cost to supply, maintain and power the machine of $0.03 per sheet, and that the clerk's walking time is .15 minute each way.

A.  Cost of clerk to walk to and from copier  (.3 min. x $0.75)       0.23

B.  Cost of clerk setting-up copier (.5 min. x $0.75)                        0.38

C.  Cost of clerk to feed the copier (.15 min. per copy x $0.75)    0.11

D.  Supply & maintenance of copier, per sheet                               0.03
                                                                                            
Total cost to copy first original:  (A + B + C + D)                           $0.75

Total cost to copy each additional original:  (C + D)                    $0.14


A sample CPRA request is below, in the bluish "wallpaper" area.  You don't have to use the City's standard form - if they have one.

In all but the largest cities, give or send your CPRA request to the city clerk at City Hall.  The city clerk is not part of the court system - so you will be treated nicely there!  In large cities, and counties, address your request, by name, to the person who is second-in-command in the appropriate department, usually Public Works.  The suggestion to address the request to the second-in-command is because the top person is usually inundated with official notices of all kinds, and yours could get lost in the deluge.

If you have a case coming up soon in court, it probably is better to issue a Subpoena Duces Tecum, or file an informal Discovery, both covered on this page.

If the agency denies your request, the CPRA says that the denial has to be in writing.

6255. (a) The agency shall justify withholding any record by demonstrating that the record in question is exempt under express provisions of this chapter or that on the facts of the particular case the public interest served by not disclosing the record clearly outweighs the public interest served by disclosure of the record.

(b) A response to a written request for inspection or copies of public records that includes a determination that the request is denied, in whole or in part, shall be in writing.
  (Emphasis added.)

Section 6255 also says that the denial letter has to "express" (cite, say, or state) what Section of the Public Records act justifies the denial; or, the letter has to explain how the public interest in keeping the information confidential is more important than the public interest in exposing the information to public view.

How Low Will They Go?

One city, perhaps inadvertently, went public with how it would like to handle public records requests.  To a statewide survey conducted in 2006 by the Chula Vista Police Department, the Roseville Police Department responded:

"The one annoyance is the people who have made it their mission to fight photo red light citations by making public records requests designed to annoy you and create busy work.  My recommendation is that you save every related document somewhere and when you get your first public records request you send them an avalanche of paper and charge them accordingly."

If "your" police department is trying to "paper" you as suggested by Roseville, keep in mind that you can inspect records, for free.  You only have to pay when you ask for your own personal copy to take home with you. 
(If you plan to use those documents in court, you should ask the city clerk or the custodian of records to certify them.)

Another example of a City's efforts to keep information from the public is this advice emailed to the City's of Bell's incoming Chief of Police Randy Adams by Assistant City Manager Pier'Angela Spaccia, during the 2009 negotiation of the Chief's contract:

"We have crafted our Agreements carefully so we do not draw attention to our pay." "The word Pay Period is used and not defined in order to protect you from someone taking the time to add up your salary."

As shown by the publication of the embarrassing emails from Bell, the emails exchanged among city staff, councilmembers and the public are public information.   Except when they involve attorney-client privilege.   Even when the councilmembers use their personal (non-city) email address to conduct city business, those emails are public.  Some cities are balking at forcing their councilmembers to turn over those emails; A June 2012 suit filed by the First Amendment Coalition against the City of Auburn may clarify the situation.
The suit may also clarify that the Govt. Code Sec. 34090(d) requirement for government records to be retained for two years is applicable to emails, which will end the now-common practice of destroying emails
after a few days or weeks. 

The very best book about the CPRA  is The CalAware Guide to Journalism Law in California.  See the Reference section on the Links page for details about it.

A two-page summary of the CPRA is available here.

One agency's public records manual is available here.


Hearsay

If you are going to the trouble of obtaining documents, make the small additional effort to make sure they will be admissible in court.  Documents you obtain from non-government sources are hearsay and cannot be used as evidence in court unless you bring in the person who created them, to answer the opposition's questions about the documents.  However, documents created by a government employee can come into evidence without having the government employee present - because there is an exception to the hearsay rule for documents created by a government employee in the normal course of their job.  The documents need to be certified, though.

Evidence Code 1280. Evidence of a writing made as a record of an act, condition, or event is not made inadmissible by the hearsay rule when offered in any civil or criminal proceeding to prove the act, condition, or event if all of the following applies:

(a) The writing was made by and within the scope of duty of a public employee.
(b) The writing was made at or near the time of the act, condition, or event.
(c) The sources of information and method and time of preparation were such as to indicate its trustworthiness.

A number of recent case decisions - and some current legislation - may change the hearsay issue.  See Defect # 10 - D on the Home page, the Goldsmith and Annette B. cases, and SB 1303 on the Action/Legis page.


Bureaucratic Tricks

Some cities claim that they don't have the info you want, but the camera company does and you must send a request to them in some distant place.  Or, they claim that the sheriff who serves their city has the info, and that you must make your request to him.
If that happens to you, remind the city that the city paid for the camera company (or the sheriff) to create and maintain the records and as a result the records are the city's property (and responsibility to disclose) even if they are located off city premises at the camera company (or sheriff's office).
There's another reason not to request or accept records directly from the camera company.  The records you get will be hearsay, and useless in court, because they were obtained from a private entity, not a government agency.  (See Hearsay, above.)


Traffic Accident Statistics

If you want to know how many accidents have occurred at a particular intersection, you can get that information from SWITRS - the Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System.   SWITRS reports are available to cities and private individuals (you), at no cost, from the Information Services Unit of the CHP.
 (To get a report, go to their website at http://iswitrs.chp.ca.gov.  Please note, however, that SWITRS will automatically send the City a copy of whatever they have provided to you.)
Examples of their reports are in Set # 12 of Culver City Documents and in Set # 5 of Hawthorne Documents.



 

Forms

1.  Public Records Request
2.  Discovery


To copy one of the forms below -

 
1.  Highlight the text of the form you want, below (for technical reasons, they're in the bluish "wallpaper" area).
2.  Copy that highlighted text into a blank word processor document [control-C, start Word, control-V].
3. I
f the resulting word processor document has a lot of short broken-up lines of text or won't fit onto a single 8-1/2 x 11 page, try the following settings:
(a) 
display at "full screen,"
(b)  fixed-width font such as Courier New, 12 points or less,

(c)  smaller side margins.
4.
Any item full of XXX's or 999's will require changing or editing, and the lines beginning with XXX may require changing or filling-in.  After you're done editing the document, do a 'find' or 'search' for XXX and another for 999 - to make sure that you have found all the items that must be changed or filled-in. 

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www.highwayrobbery.net

(Scroll Down for the Forms)



1.  PUBLIC RECORDS REQUEST

(The Discovery request is further down this page.)

The following sample Public Records Request asks for a lot of documents.  To reduce the number of copies you will have to pay for, and to avoid a claim by the city that your request is burdensome, I suggest that you eliminate any documents that you do not plan to use.  Please also note that there are two versions of item M., and one of them requires your signature.


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PUBLIC RECORDS REQUEST

[[The sample Discovery request is below this public records request]]

To: City Clerk, City of XXXXXXXX Fax Page 1 of 2

I. From:

XXX Name:
XXX Address:
XXX Phone (optional):

II. The following records or materials are requested. All pertain to red light camera systems.

A. The original contract between your agency and its red light camera vendor, with all attachments or exhibits. All updates, amendments, extensions, renewals, or revisions thereto.

B. For each "intersection approach" or "approach" (defined as a red light camera or cameras monitoring any or all lanes of traffic entering an intersection from a single compass direction) within your jurisdiction, the monthly (or if 'monthly' not available, other periodic) tabulation or tally of citations recorded, issued, discarded, and paid (fine collected), from the onset of the program to the present.

Please also provide copies of any report or material in which said tabulations, or figures derived from them, were presented or disseminated to other agency employees or officials, the employees or officials of other governmental agencies, members of the public, or the media.

C. All invoices from said vendor to your agency, or other requests to pay vendor, with all attachments or exhibits thereto. Also, a list of all payments made to vendor, or if that is not available, for each payment made, a voucher, check stub, counterpart or other evidence of payment.

D(1). For red light camera installations within your jurisdiction, your "uniform guidelines for screening and issuing violations and for the processing and storage of confidential information..." as mentioned by Vehicle Code 21455.5(c)(1). Or, an otherwise-entitled document(s) having the same subject.

D(2). The "...procedures to ensure compliance with those guidelines," as mentioned by Vehicle Code 21455.5(c)(1). Or, an otherwise-entitled document(s) having the same subject.

D(3). Your "guidelines for selection of location," as mentioned by Vehicle Code 21455.5(c)(2)(A). Or, an otherwise-entitled document(s) having the same subject.

Please provide each record or material in (D) above in its original form or edition. Please also provide all updates, new editions, or revisions, with appropriate notation as to the record or material's date.

E. Records of Warning notices (a.k.a. "warning tickets"), as mentioned by Vehicle Code 21455.5(b), to wit:
(1)  Please provide the first five (5) warning tickets issued at the intersection of ________ and __________, as well as the last five (5) warning tickets issued at said intersection. Confidential information that would identify the driver should be redacted, but please do not redact the city name and Zipcode portion of the driver's address. 
(2)  Please provide records or reports indicating the quantity of warning notices issued at said intersection, the date(s) on which those warning notices were mailed, and the place and manner of said mailing.

F. All materials of any kind, created or dated Jan. 1, 2001 to the present and relating to any intersection that presently is, or is to be, the site of photo enforcement, reflecting or discussing any of the following: traffic congestion there, the rate of traffic accidents there, the causes of traffic accidents there, corrective measures taken or needed to be taken there (including enforcement of traffic laws via either traditional methods or via photo enforcement), or other traffic-related problems there. Please provide any material reflecting how said photo enforced intersection(s) ranked, in terms of safety or accidents, when compared to other, not necessarily photo-enforced, intersections in your jurisdiction.

Please also provide, for all intersections regardless of whether they are photo enforced, or not, any material reflecting jurisdiction-wide intersection rankings in terms of safety or accidents.

G(1). The staff report(s), with any attachments, from the public hearing required by Vehicle Code 21455.6(a), the "Tear Sheet" for the newspaper notice of said public hearing, the minutes of said public hearing, and any written materials or communications submitted for said hearing by vendors, bidders, members of the public, or representatives of governmental entities. 

G(2).  The staff report(s) for any additional hearings or public meetings (aside from the required public hearing) where installation of a red light camera system, or adoption of a red light camera contract, was under consideration or was to be voted upon, the minutes for said additional hearings/meetings, and any materials or communications submitted for said additional hearings/meetings by vendors, bidders, members of the public, or representatives of governmental entities. 

H. The signal timing charts for all intersections presently having red light camera installations (or where such an installation has been approved for construction), reflecting the present signal timing settings and the direction of travel to which each numbered phase is assigned. Also, any previous versions of said charts reflecting different signal timing settings in use Jan. 1, 2002 or thereafter. If for any of said charts the revision or creation date would not be evident and clear from reading the requested photocopy, please add appropriate notations or attach a cover letter.

K. For each of the intersections described in (H) above (including those approved for construction), the radar speed survey(s) applicable to any portion, within 1/2 mile, of a there-intersecting street whose traffic is subject to photo enforcement. (This request excludes surveys of streets that are solely the completion place of photo enforced turning movements.) Said surveys should include both the current survey and any earlier version that was applicable or in effect anytime after Jan. 1, 1995. Said surveys should cover both directions of travel at each surveyed location, and should include at a minimum, the field technician's chart of individual driver's speeds actually measured, and the traffic engineer's discussion of the speed limit chosen.

L. Any other staff report (with any attachments) regarding red light cameras and which was presented to the city council or city commissions or boards on or after Jan. 1, 2001.

M. 

XXX ( )  The first ten (10) citations issued for each approach during the month of OCTOBER 2005, as well as the last ten (10) issued during that month for each approach. Confidential information that would identify the driver should be redacted, but direction of movement (straight through, left, right, eastbound, westbound, etc.) should be preserved.

OR

XXX ( )  The first ten (10) citations issued for each approach during the month of OCTOBER 2005, as well as the last ten (10) issued during that month for each approach. Confidential information may be redacted, but the address of the driver and the direction of movement (straight through, left, right, eastbound, westbound, etc.) should be preserved. The following is the required declaration under Government Code Section 6254(f)(3).  I declare under penalty of perjury that this request is made for a scholarly, journalistic, political or governmental purpose, and that the address information obtained will not be used directly or indirectly or furnished to another, to sell a product or service to any individual or group of individuals.

XXX Signed:

XXX Date:

III.

XXX (  ) This request is for copies of the above records or materials, to be mailed to me. However, if any of these documents are available in electronic format, please email them to me (per Govt. Code 6253.9.) at XXXX@XXXXXXXXX.

XXX (  ) This request is for CERTIFIED copies of the above records or materials.

XXX (  ) This request is, initially, just for inspection of the above records or materials. If I wish to have you provide me my own copies of any of said records or materials, I will make that request at, or after, the time of inspection.

IV. Your attention is drawn, in particular, to Government Code Sections 6253 and 6253.1. If there are any public records that you seek to withhold, please state the reasons therefor. In addition, you must assist requester in identifying public records and information responsive to this request; and you have an obligation to "[p]rovide suggestions for overcoming any practical basis for denying access to the records and information sought."

V. Date of request: XXXXXXXX

VI. Faxed to #: XXX XXXXXXX
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2.  DISCOVERY


The following Discovery request asks for a lot of documents, and I recommend that you ask for all of them.  You never know what might turn up!  I also recommend that you have a friend execute the Proof of Service found at the end of the Discovery request.

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REQUEST FOR DISCOVERY (INFORMAL):

XXX John Smith, Defendant in Pro Per
9999 Main Street
Any City, CA 99999-9999
(999) 999-9999

XXX __________________, 2005

Office of the District Attorney, County of ____________
Attn:  Discovery Clerk
999999 Any Blvd.
Any City, CA 99999-9999           By facsimile to (999) 999-9999


XXX Office of the City Attorney
Attn:  Discovery Clerk
XXX City Hall
999999 Any Blvd.
Any City, CA 99999-9999           By facsimile to (999) 999-9999


Office of the City Prosecutor
Attn:  Discovery Clerk
XXX City Hall
999999 Any Blvd.
Any City, CA 99999-9999           By facsimile to (999) 999-9999


cc:
Bench Officer, Traffic Docket
Superior Court
999999 Big Blvd.
Any City, CA 99999-9999


Re:     Discovery Request
XXX People vs. __________________
XXX Citation No. _________________
XXX Date of alleged violation ____________________
XXX Subject intersection:   ____________________


XXX To the Office of the District Attorney, City Attorney, City Prosecutor:

I represent myself in the above-referenced case.  I am hereby giving notice, pursuant to Penal Code Sections 1054, 1054.5(b), and 19.7, that I am requesting disclosure and production of the following materials and information within fifteen (15) days of the date of service of this request:

1.  The names and addresses of all witnesses who may be called to testify against the defendant at the trial.

2.  All statements regarding this case, whether written or oral, made by any potential witness in this case, whether or not the prosecution intends to call them at trial.  The contents of any such oral statements must be disclosed only to the extend that they are not presently contained in police reports or citations given to the defendant, but the People must disclose all additions to, deletions from, denials, explanations and clarifications of such statements contained in the police reports and citations, including all tangible evidence which relates to this case, whether or not the prosecution intends to introduce the evidence at trial.

3.  All handwritten notes and/or case memorandums, if any, made by any or agent or employee of the City's red light camera contractor, regarding the officer's, agent's or employee's conversations or interviews with witnesses and/or the defendant in the present case, or regarding his review of documents, citations and photographs, and any written report based on those conversations, interviews, or review of said materials.

4.  Examination of any books, papers, documents, photographs, tangible objects or other physical evidence which the People intend to use in the trial or which were obtained or created in the investigation, initiation, or service of the case against the defendant (including proof of service, certificate of mailing, or other evidence of mailing).   Copies of all exhibits, including any diagrams, charts, or system logs, the People intend to present at the trial.   Defendant In Pro Per herein requests to make an appointment to view the original exhibits in advance of trial. 
Please also assure that if any provided photos were originally recorded "digitally," the photos under provided under this discovery also are in a digital form.

5.  Copies of all photos or videos taken of the defendant or of the vehicle he is alleged to have been driving, at or near the time of the alleged violation in this case.  This request includes, but is not limited to, copies of the photographs allegedly taken during defendant's alleged encroachment into the aforementioned intersection, and copies of the additional modified photo-enlargements depicting a close-up driver's image and a close-up license plate photo.  Please assure that all copies of photographic materials (still or video) are the same resolution as the originals and have not been cropped or trimmed, and that all copies of videos are the same length and "frame rate" (frames per second) as the originals.  Please also assure that if the original photos were  "digital," the copies provided are also in a digital form.

6.  Examination of all original photographs, digital images, superimposed images, transparencies, slides, diagrams, motion pictures and/or video tapes, composites or likenesses shown to or reviewed by witnesses and prospective witnesses in this case for the purpose of establishing the identity of suspects in the crime charged against the defendant; and all reports concerning the display of such to said witnesses.

7.  All reports of experts, police officers, service technicians, and investigators made in conjunction with the case involving the results of physical or mental examinations and/or scientific tests, including but not limited to the reports and results of those who examined the photographs, registration records, and data collected in order to request that prosecution be initiated in this matter, together with the reports and results of those who examined the technology and made any such conclusions that the technology was calibrated and/or in proper working order.

8.  All laboratory, technician and other reports concerning the testing and examination of said physical evidence.  This request specifically includes the calibration and maintenance documents for the red light camera device(s) installed at the subject intersection (noted above), and the calibration and maintenance documents for the traffic signals at said intersection, with said records to include 366 days prior to the instant violation and thirty days subsequent thereto.  This request also specifically includes all documents pertaining to signal light timing for all traffic signals at said intersection.  This information should include copies of timing requirements, warrant requirements and specifications for all yellow light phases at said intersection.  It should also include copies of any changes or alterations in light phase duration since the installation of the traffic signal lights, including any changes in light phase duration since the installation of the automated enforcement system at said intersection.

9.  Investigation, maintenance, and repair reports pertaining to this case or other photo enforcement cases that allegedly occurred within one month before and one month after the alleged violation in this case, whether written or oral, by the office of the city attorney, the City’s  police department, the City’s  red light camera contractor, or any other investigators, technicians, subcontractors, or repair workers.

10.  Copies of evidence by which the People intend to demonstrate compliance with the Vehicle Code Sec. 21455.5(b) requirement for the issuance of warning notices. 

11.  A copy of the City's "uniform guidelines for screening and issuing violations and for the processing and storage of confidential information...," as discussed in Vehicle Code Sec. 21455.5(c)(1),
as effective on the date of the alleged violation.

12.  
A copy of the City's "...procedures to ensure compliance with those guidelines," as discussed in Vehicle Code Sec. 21455.5(c)(1), as effective on the date of the alleged violation.


13.  A copy of the City's "guidelines for selection of location," as discussed in Vehicle Code Sec. 21455.5(c)(2)(A),
as effective on the date of installation of the subject camera.

14.  A copy of the signed and dated contract between the City and the camera contractor, as effective on the date of the alleged violation, including all attachments or "exhibits" thereto.  All updates, amendments, extensions, renewals, or revisions thereto.  

15.  Information and materials favorable to the accused and material either to guilt or to punishment (Brady v. Maryland (1963) 373 U.S. 83, 83 S.Ct. 1194.), or mandated by the United States Constitution (Penal Code Sec. 1054(e).), as follows:

(a).  Exculpatory evidence, i.e., any evidence, information, documents and other materials favorable to the defendant in the possession of the office of the city attorney, or of any police department involved in the investigation of the case against defendant, or of any agency or person and available to the prosecution through the exercise of due diligence.  (Randle v. City and County of San Francisco (1986) 186 Cal. App.3d 449; Evans v. Janing (8th Cir., 1973) 489 F.2d 470; U.S. v. Eley (N.D. Ga, 1972) 335 F.Supp. 353.)  This request item includes copies of the logs for the operation of the camera system during the hour before, and the hour after, the violation.

(b).  The names and addresses and copies of the citations of all those individuals who have also been charged with the same violation arising at the same intersection on the same date as the defendant.

16.  The traffic accident history for each intersection with an installed red light camera unit in the city for the years 1998 through the present.  This request includes summaries, accident reports, investigation reports and records, associated memoranda and statistical compilations.  This request pertains to all traffic accidents, regardless of cause.

Materials concerning the selective and discriminatory enforcement of the red light camera enforcement program:

17.  Any and all records, notices, tickets, reports and/or photographs made, taken or issued in conjunction with the red light camera program
at the subject intersection (noted above), in the time period between thirty days prior to the instant violation and thirty days subsequent thereto, and which did not result in prosecution.  This request includes any error logs delivered or required to be delivered to the operations manager (or other supervisor of said program) and further includes, but is not limited to, a failure to issue for any or all of the following reasons:

A.   The driver could not be clearly identified.

B.   Government vehicle or employee.

C.   Warning ticket issued.

18.  The following is disclosed to you pursuant to Penal Code Sec. 1054.3:

A.   Names and addresses of witnesses (other than defendant) who will testify at trial (check one):

XXX ( )  None.

XXX ( )  The following:

B.   Relevant unprivileged written or recorded statements of witnesses (check one):

XXX ( )  None.

XXX ( )  See attached.

C.   Real evidence which the defendant intends to offer in evidence at the trial (check one):

XXX ( )  None.

XXX ( )  See attached.

Defendant asks that this request be treated as a continuing request through the completion of trial.  Do not hesitate to contact me if I can be of assistance of any kind.  Thank you for your prompt attention regarding this matter.


Sincerely,



XXX John Smith
Defendant In Pro Per



PROOF OF SERVICE BY MAIL

XXX John Smith, Defendant in Pro Per
9999 Main Street
Any City, CA 99999-9999
(999) 999-9999

Bench Officer, Traffic Docket
Superior Court
999999 Big Blvd.
Any City, CA 99999-9999

Re:  Request for Discovery  (Informal)
XXX People vs. __________________
XXX Citation No. _________________

I declare that:

1.  At the time of service I was at least 18 years of age and not a party to this legal action.
2.  I am a resident of or employed in the county where the mailing occurred.
3.  My business or residence address is __________________________
4.  I served copies of the following paper(s) in the manner shown:

a.  Papers served [list exact titles of paper(s)]:

Request for Discovery (Informal)

b.  Manner of service:  by placing true copies in a sealed envelope addressed to each person whose name and address is given below and depositing the envelope in the United States Mail with the postage fully prepaid.

(1) Date of Deposit ___________________

(2) Place of Deposit (city and state) __________________________________________

5.  I declare under penalty of perjury under the laws of the State of California that the foregoing is true and correct.

Executed on  _________________ at ____________________________ California.

Print Name ___________________________   ___________________________________
                                         Signature of Person Who Served Papers


[Address of City Attorney]   [Address of anyone else you have served]  




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