The California Supreme Court on Wednesday declined to clarify whether a new state law requiring California law enforcement agencies to make police misconduct records public applies to misconduct that took place before the new law went into effect on Jan. 1 — whether the law is retroactive. Since the high court will not weigh the retroactivity issue, it also declined to issue an injunction against the enforcement of the law, as was also requested. The upshot: California law enforcement agencies will have to begin fulfilling requests made by the public, the media or anyone else who asks for them. If police departments want to challenge the way retroactivity applies to the law, that will have to be decided in lower courts, on an individual basis — a lawsuit over the matter was filed in Los Angeles County on Dec. 31. If lower court decisions on the matter are appealed, the California Supreme Court could eventually be forced to rule on the matter. More: San Bernardino County sheriff’s union sues to block new state transparency law requiring release of misconduct records The lawsuit was filed by a union representing San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department deputies, and was intended to leapfrog lower courts and get a statewide ruling directly from the state’s highest court. The recently-enacted law, SB 1421, requires police departments to make public internal investigation records regarding officers’ use of force, sexual assault and lying on reports. However, the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Employees’ Benefit Association, which represents deputies from… [Read full story]
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