Local attorney and occasional LNS columnist Dave Wellenbrock tipped us to a session Tuesday night in Stockton on accessing public records.
This isn't a task limited to journalists. Many regular citizens can and do file public records requests.
Our police and courts reporter, Kris Anderson, attended the session and took a few notes, which I am passing along here:
Tips for submitting a records request from Paul Boylan, ESQ:
-Ask for records, not just information.
-Be specific with records requests.
-Identify why your request is in the interest of the public.
-Put your request in writing.
-Limit your request in time and scope.
-Presume a judge will one day read your request.
-If you're asking for something that could be erased (emails, for example) ask for the records to be preserved while agency is looking for them.
A final note: At least two organizations in California stand ready to help with record requests from journalists and non-journalists alike:
The First Amendment Coalition at firstamendmentcoalition.org
CaliforniansAware at calaware.org.
If you do peek into public records and find something interesting, please let us know.