Law Seminars International Presents:

The Fifth Annual Advanced One-Day Seminar on

Public Records Act Litigation

New developments at the state and federal level

June 7, 2017

San Francisco, CA
(or anyplace you may be via webcast!)

Download PDF Brochure
San Francisco - CA


Who Should Attend

Public and private attorneys who litigate over denials of citizen and media public records requests; public officials responsible for managing public records

Why You Should Attend

California's Public Records Act (PRA) has entered an activist era, with more citizens submitting PRA requests and then suing when they are denied. The California Supreme Court has decided several PRA cases in recent years, including the recent City of San Jose case involving the extent to which communications on personal electronic devices and email accounts by government officials are subject to disclosure.

This comprehensive program will examine recent litigation trends and the resulting impact on the duties of government agencies faced with PRA requests, pending cases working their way through the courts, the unique procedural issues for bringing and defending PRA suits, and the practical steps that citizens, media entities, and government agencies should take. This will include a view from the bench from Alameda County Superior Court Judge Evelio Grillo and ethical tips from both the requester and the agency side.

Coverage of hot topics will include trade secret claims, third party records, and the "constructive possession" doctrine. We'll look at the implications of the transition from the Obama Administration to the Trump Administration for federal transparency under the Federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). We'll also spotlight new issues in the evolving law for public access to records maintained by law enforcement.

This annual program will continue to be a valuable resource both for those with experience in making and responding to PRA requests, and for those who are new to the field. We hope to see you there.

~ John T. Kennedy, Esq. of Nossaman LLP and Karl Olson, Esq. of Ram Olson Cereghino & Kopczynski LLP, Program Co-Chairs

What You Will Learn

  • City of San Jose case on disclosure of communications by public officials on personal devices or email accounts
  • Other recent developments in California courts
  • Federal Transparency under the the Trump Administration
  • Public access to records maintained by law enforcement
  • Constructive possession and disclosure of trade secrets
  • A view from the bench on resolving public records disputes
  • Ethical issues in public records litigation

What Attendees Have Said About Similar Programs

  • "Excellent information."
  • "As a first responder to PRA requests, this seminar has been extremely helpful."
  • "Nice to hear various perspectives on the California PRA."
  • "The panels were diverse and engaging."
  • "Very knowledgeable and experienced speakers."
  • "Please do program again!"


Wednesday, June 07, 2017

8:00 am

Registration Opens

8:30 am

Introduction & Overview

John T. Kennedy, Esq. , Program Co-Chair
Nossaman LLP / Sacramento, CA

Karl Olson, Esq.
Cannata O'Toole Fickes & Almazan LLP / San Francisco, CA

8:45 am

City of San Jose v. Superior Court (the Smith Case): When are Communications by Public Officials on Personal Cell Phones or Other Devices Subject to Public Records Disclosure?

Analysis of the arguments and court rulings; implications for how public officials conduct business using personal devices; and tips for developing best practices for securing communications from personal devices

Karl Olson, Esq.
Cannata O'Toole Fickes & Almazan LLP / San Francisco, CA

Nora Frimann, Esq. , Assistant City Attorney
City of San Jose / San Jose, CA

Annie Loo, Esq. , Deputy County Counsel
County of Orange / Santa Ana, CA

Thomas Peele , Investigative Reporter
Bay Area News Group / San Ramon, CA

10:15 am


10:30 am

Other Recent Developments in California Courts

Pending and recent cases including Ardon and Newark Unified School District cases on inadvertent disclosure privileged documents; anti-SLAPP decision in City of Montebello v. Vasquez; attorney fees

Ashley K. Dunning, Esq.
Nossaman LLP / San Francisco, CA

11:00 am

Federal Transparency and the Federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA): Implications of the Transition from the Obama Administration to the Trump Administration

Update on the Open Government Directive, presumption in favor of disclosure machine-readability; citizen access to federal data sets; use of non-disclosure agreements for federal staffers; shield laws for journalist protection of confidential sources

David Snyder, Esq. , Executive Director
First Amendment Coalition / San Rafael, CA

DOJ perspective on FOIA litigation moving forward

Michelle Lo, Esq. , Assistant United States Attorney
United States Attorneys Office / San Francisco, CA

12:00 pm

Lunch (on your own)

1:15 pm

Public Access to Records Maintained by Law Enforcement

Police investigations; parole records; personnel records; citizen complaints and review panels; information resulting from use of body cameras and other new technologies; third party challenges to release of information

Jeffrey D. Glasser, Esq. , Senior Counsel
Los Angeles Times / Los Angeles, CA

David E. Mastagni, Esq.
Mastagni Holstedt PC / Sacramento, CA

2:15 pm

Constructive Possession and Trade Secrets

When do you have possession? As the trade secret holder, when and how can you get an injunction so you can avoid providing the information? If you have to provide the information, how can you do that without losing the trade secret?

Thomas R. Burke, Esq.
Davis Wright Tremaine LLP / San Francisco, CA

3:15 pm


3:30 pm

Special Address: A View from the Bench on the Best Approaches for Resolving Public Records Disputes

Common mistakes and tips for more effective advocacy at each step in the process from settlement discussion through motions practice and trial

The Hon. Evelio M. Grillo, Esq. , Judge
The Superior Court of California, County of Alameda / Oakland, CA

4:00 pm

Ethical Issues in Public Records Litigation

Practical tips for requestors and public sector responders for dealing with common issues and identifying potential pitfalls

John T. Kennedy, Esq. , Program Co-Chair, Moderator
Nossaman LLP / Sacramento, CA

Karlene Goller, Esq.
The Law Office of Karlene Goller PC / Pasadena, CA

Jonathan Koltz, Esq. , Legal Counsel
California Public Utilities Commission / San Francisco, CA

5:00 pm

Evaluations and Adjourn

Faculty Bios

John T. Kennedy, John T. Kennedy, Program Co-Chair, partner at Nossaman LLP, specializes in business litigation with an emphasis on employment law. Additionally, he counsels and advises public entities regarding public disclosure of information and the Brown Act, providing these services to the California Office of the Legislative Counsel, the California Assembly Rules Committee, and the Sacramento County Employees' Retirement System.

Karl Olson, Karl Olson, Program Co-Chair, partner at Cannata O'Toole Fickes & Almazan LLP, specializes in defending news media clients and individuals against defamation and SLAPP suits. He has handled numerous battles for access to public records under the PRA, including a successful lawsuit decided by the California Supreme Court involving access to public employee salaries.

Thomas R. Burke Thomas R. Burke is a partner at Davis Wright Tremaine LLP. He is experienced in litigating PRA and FOIA matters in the trial and appellate courts on behalf of media clients and individuals.

Ashley K. Dunning Ashley K. Dunning is Co-Chair of the Public Pension and Investments Practice Group, a member of the Litigation Practice Group, and a partner at the national law firm Nossaman LLP. She advises on issues involving fiduciary obligations, governance, and California's public retirement, conflict of interest, open meetings, and public records laws

Nora Frimann is an Assistant City Attorney for City of San Jose responsible for litigation. Her responsibilities also include the City's appellate practice. Previously, her litigation practice emphasized environmental, products liability, employment, and commercial matters.

Jeffrey D. Glasser, Senior Counsel at the Los Angeles Times, assists reporters in obtaining records from public agencies. Previously, he was at Davis Wright Tremaine LLP.

Karlene Goller, The Law Office of Karlene Goller PC, provides independent, strategic business and legal counseling for global media companies, filmmakers, start-ups, reporters, producers, and authors. Previously she was Vice President and Deputy General Counsel for the Los Angeles Times Media Group.

The Hon. Evelio M. Grillo is a Judge in The Superior Court of California, County of Alameda. Prior to being appointed and then elected to the bench, he was a partner at the firm of Grillo and Stevens.

Jonathan Koltz, Legal Counsel, California Public Utilities Commission, advises decision makers (Commissioners, their advisers, and Administrative Law Judges) in energy, water, and telecommunications proceedings; trial and appellate litigation; compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act; and compliance with the PRA.

Michelle Lo has been an Assistant United States Attorney with the Civil Division of the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of California since 2014. Prior to that, she served as an Assistant United States Attorney with the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia from 2009-2014. She has handled FOIA litigation for various federal agencies in both districts.

Annie Loo Annie Loo is Deputy County Counsel for the County of Orange. She advises the County on Public Records Act issues and serves as in-house advisory counsel to the Social Services Agency. She is also adjunct faculty at Biola University where she teaches Public Affairs Reporting. Previously she was a reporter for the Orange County Register.

David E. Mastagni, David E. Mastagni, partner in the Labor Department of Mastagni Holstedt PC, specializes in complex civil, class action, and collective-action litigation matters in labor and employment law, including trial and appellate litigation in California and federal courts. He represents public safety representatives and their members with respect to their employment.

Thomas Peele is Investigative Reporter at Bay Area News Group, publishers of The Contra Costa Times, The San Jose Mercury News, The Oakland Tribune and other papers surrounding San Francisco. He received a 2017 Pulitzer Prize for breaking news reporting on the Ghost Ship fire tragedy. Peele has journalism awards for investigations of government corruption, the environment, and casino gambling.

David Snyder, David Snyder, Executive Director of the First Amendment Coalition, is a lawyer and journalist. His experience as a journalist includes time at the Albuquerque Tribune, the Dallas Morning News, and the Washington Post. As a lawyer, he represented journalists and news media for Sheppard Mullin.


Continuing Education Credits

Live credits: Law Seminars International is a State Bar of California approved MCLE provider. This program qualifies for 6.75 California MCLE credits. "

" We have applied for 6.50 Virginia CLE credits. Upon request, we will apply for, or help you apply for, CLE credits in other states and other types of credits.


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Holiday Inn San Francisco Fisherman's Wharf

1300 Columbus Ave in San Francisco, CA 94133
(415) 771-9000

The seminar will be held at the Holiday Inn San Francisco Fisherman's Wharf at 1300 Columbus Ave in San Francisco, CA 94133. Call the hotel directly at (800) 942-7348 by May 7 for reservations at the special negotiated rate of $249 and mention that you are attending a Law Seminars International seminar. Rooms are on a first come, first served basis.
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