California AG: it’s illegal to possess secret list of convicted cops

By filing routine public records requests, reporters obtained a hitherto unreleased list of thousands of California law enforcement officers convicted of crimes over the past decade. “But when [California Attorney General Xavier] Becerra’s office learned about the disclosure, it threatened the reporters with legal action unless they destroyed the records, insisting they are confidential under state law and were released inadvertently. The two journalism organizations have rejected Becerra’s demands.” The list includes “cops who stole money from their departments and even one who robbed a bank wearing a fake beard. Some sexually assaulted suspects. Others took bribes, filed false reports and committed perjury.” [Robert Lewis and Jason Paladino, East Bay Times]


  • According to the article:

    ““Once you disclose a document that’s confidential and private, you can’t take it back,” Becerra told reporters earlier this month. ”You don’t get a second chance to get it right, you got to get it right the first time.””

    Thanks Mr. Attorney General. We’ll quote you in our opposition to your demand.


  • The thuggery here is amazing.

  • Is it not the case that criminal convictions are, except for juveniles, a matter of public record? A news organization that was willing to spend the money could send a reporter to every trial and construct a database of the outcomes. It could probably do the same thing more efficiently by periodically consulting the records of each criminal court. This means that for any police officer it is possible in theory to obtain the record of convictions using only public information. How could the possession of such a list be illegal?

  • I thought that The Pentagon Papers Case (New York Times Co. v. United States, 403 U.S. 713 (1971) put an end to the government trying to bar a newspaper from publishing classified material that was illegally leaked. The California AG has no chance of barring a newspaper from publishing legally obtained information.