A Los Angeles judge dealt a blow Tuesday to law enforcement unions trying to limit the scope of a landmark transparency law, ruling that records from shootings, use of force and some misconduct by police officers in California are public even if they occurred before the new law took effect this year.
The decision marks a provisional victory for open-government groups and media organizations that intervened in a case brought by the Los Angeles Police Protective League, which sought to keep records of older incidents confidential.
Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Mitchell L. Beckloff’s ruling involves records that fall under Senate Bill 1421 — internal investigations into shootings by officers, severe uses of force and confirmed cases of sexual assault and lying by officers.
The judge’s decision doesn’t take effect until March 1, giving the police union time to appeal and ask the appellate court to block the release of records pending its decision. But open government advocates hailed the judge’s decision, saying that keeping older records secret would shield misconduct by some officers who remain on the job.
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