Steve A. FILARSKY, Petitioner, v. The SUPERIOR COURT of Los Angeles County, Respondent; City of Manhattan Beach, Real Party in Interest.
Pursuant to California's Public Records Act (CPRA), petitioner Steve A. Filarsky (Filarsky) sought certain records from real party in interest City of Manhattan Beach (the City) pertaining to its decision to hire Paul Marshall (Marshall) as its police captain. The City decided that the records sought were confidential and exempt from disclosure under specific provisions of the CPRA and communicated that decision to Filarsky. When Filarsky threatened litigation if he did not get the records, the City filed a declaratory relief action seeking a determination its decision denying Filarsky's request was legally correct. The trial court overruled Filarsky's demurrer on jurisdictional grounds, found the records requested were exempt from disclosure, and granted declaratory relief against Filarsky. Filarsky seeks a writ of mandate vacating the trial court's order by contending (1) a public entity may never seek declaratory relief against a citizen seeking records under the CPRA, and (2) the records he seeks are not exempt from disclosure.
We conclude that the trial court was correct and therefore deny the petition for writ of mandate.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
Petitioner Filarsky is an attorney apparently experienced in representing public entities. In 1986, Filarsky represented the City of Pismo Beach in an action that ended with the termination of City of Pismo Beach Police Officer Marshall for use of excessive force and inhumane treatment of a ward at a juvenile facility.
In 1999, Filarsky, a City resident, learned that the City had recently hired Marshall as its police captain. He sent a letter to the mayor and members of the City council informing them of Marshall's termination by the City of Pismo Beach in 1984. The City manager then met with Filarsky and told him that he was aware of Marshall's termination from the Pismo Beach Police Department and the reasons for his termination, and also that since that termination Marshall had been hired by the Sacramento Police Department and been promoted to lieutenant with an unblemished record. The City manager also told Filarsky that all of these matters had been considered in hiring Marshall.
About a month later, Filarsky sent another letter to the City manager requesting certain documents pursuant to the CPRA. He asked for the following: (1) Marshall's application and resume for the position of police captain; (2) the names of the oral board raters who interviewed Marshall; (3) the oral board rating sheets for Marshall; (4) the eligibility list for the police captain position; (5) the City's background investigation relating to Marshall's prior employment with the City of Pismo Beach and his termination; and (6) the City's background investigation relating to Marshall's criminal prosecution for the use of excessive force while with the City of Pismo Beach.1
The City denied Filarsky's request by expressly stating that Government Code section 6254, subdivision (c),2 Penal Code section 832.7, Evidence Code sections 1043 and 1046, and also section 6255, protected the records from disclosure. Filarsky responded with a further letter disagreeing with the City's position, making numerous legal arguments, and “offering the City one more opportunity to provide the information requested before I seek court intervention.” Filarsky intimated he would seek attorney's fees if he prevailed in such litigation and that a timely disclosure of the records would “avoid[ ] a trip to court.” In response to this letter, the City again denied Filarsky's request and enumerated its reasons but did provide (1) the names of the raters on the interviewing board, and (2) the eligibility list for the police captain position with all of the candidates' names redacted, except for Marshall's.
Later, in response to another of Filarsky's letters, the City informed him that (1) Marshall made no misrepresentations about his background; (2) the background investigation revealed Marshall's disciplinary termination and unsuccessful criminal prosecution; (3) the background investigation was conducted by retired police chief Ted Mertens; (4) the hiring decision was made by the City manager with the chief's input; and (5) the City weighed Marshall's past discipline against 10 years of outstanding service prior to, and 15 years after, the incident.
As stated, the City also filed a superior court action against Filarsky for declaratory relief claiming the records were confidential and thus protected from disclosure. After overruling Filarsky's demurrer to the complaint and considering written and oral argument, the trial court granted declaratory relief and found the documents requested “are confidential and not subject to disclosure as a matter of law.”
Filarsky then filed a petition for writ of mandate, which we summarily denied. The Supreme Court granted Filarsky's petition for review and transferred the matter to us with directions to vacate our order denying the petition and to issue an order directing the superior court to show cause why the relief sought should not be granted. The Supreme Court cited City of Santa Rosa v. Press Democrat (1986) 187 Cal.App.3d 1315, 232 Cal.Rptr. 445 and requested “consideration of the question whether a public entity may institute an action for declaratory relief under the circumstances of this case.” We thus issued an order to show cause and heard oral argument. After reconsidering the matter, we conclude the trial court was correct in overruling the demurrer and in ruling the documents Filarsky requested were exempt from disclosure.
Filarsky contends the trial court abused its discretion by denying disclosure because (1) the City had no right of action against him under the CPRA, and (2) the records sought are not exempt from disclosure. We disagree with both of these contentions.
1. The City was entitled to file a declaratory relief action concerning its decision to deny disclosure of the requested documents under the CPRA.
Filarsky argues that under City of Santa Rosa the City has no right of action against him and that the trial court had no jurisdiction to determine its duty of disclosure of public records under the CPRA. City of Santa Rosa is, however, inapplicable to the facts of this case.
a. The City of Santa Rosa case.
The Supreme Court's order granting review and transferring this case back to us makes a specific reference to City of Santa Rosa. Therefore, we deem it necessary to review the case in depth. In that case, a newspaper made a request under the CPRA for disclosure of a report prepared by the City of Santa Rosa Police Department concerning its investigation of a high school teacher alleged to have had sexual intercourse with a minor. Instead of deciding whether it was going to provide the documents, the City of Santa Rosa filed an action in the superior court for declaratory relief even though there was no indication the newspaper intended to bring an action to compel disclosure. The newspaper demurred to the complaint on the grounds (a) the CPRA provided the exclusive means to evaluate public information requests and that the court had no jurisdiction to decide the declaratory relief action initiated by the City of Santa Rosa, and (b) the City of Santa Rosa failed to exhaust its administrative remedies and no actual controversy existed because the City of Santa Rosa had not acted on its request. The court sustained the demurrer and dismissed the complaint. The Court of Appeal agreed and affirmed the order and judgment of dismissal, concluding “that neither the provisions of the CPRA nor the Declaratory Relief Act provide for the maintenance of an action by a city or other governmental entity to decide questions of disclosure under the CPRA in the first instance.” (City of Santa Rosa v. Press Democrat, supra, 187 Cal.App.3d at p. 1324, 232 Cal.Rptr. 445, italics added.)
Contrary to Filarsky's contention, City of Santa Rosa did not hold that a public entity can never bring a declaratory relief action against a person requesting documents under the CPRA. Rather, the court was concerned with the fact that the City of Santa Rosa was “attemp[ting] to predetermine questions of disclosure arising from the CPRA” because the City was “unable to balance the rights of the various parties and reach a decision whether to disclose.” (City of Santa Rosa v. Press Democrat, supra, 187 Cal.App.3d at pp. 1319, 1323, 232 Cal.Rptr. 445, italics added.) In other words, the City of Santa Rosa was seeking “to avoid the decision whether to deny disclosure and, instead, to invoke a judicial determination from inception.” (Id. at p. 1319, fn. 4, 232 Cal.Rptr. 445, italics added.)
The Court of Appeal's decision was based upon the fact that the City of Santa Rosa made no determination of disclosure within 10 days of the request as required by the CPRA, but instead simply filed a complaint and asked the court to make the initial determination of disclosure. Thus, the City of Santa Rosa failed to exercise its administrative discretion as mandated by the CPRA. The court held that “ ‘[i]t would violate the doctrine of separation of powers if the courts in such a situation, under the guise of declaratory relief, made pronouncements in a field reserved to legislative or executive discretion.’ ” (City of Santa Rosa v. Press Democrat, supra, 187 Cal.App.3d at p. 1324, 232 Cal.Rptr. 445, quoting Zetterberg v. State Dept. of Public Health (1974) 43 Cal.App.3d 657, 663-664, 118 Cal.Rptr. 100.)
The City of Santa Rosa court was also concerned that the evidence before it did not demonstrate there was a live controversy justifying a declaratory relief action. The court stated, “[N]owhere in the complaint or in the briefs do we find any suggestion that [the newspaper] either has sought or intends to bring an action to compel disclosure of the information if its request is denied. The absence of such allegations manifests that no live controversy exists suitable for adjudication under Code of Civil Procedure section 1060.” (City of Santa Rosa v. Press Democrat, supra, 187 Cal.App.3d at p. 1323, 232 Cal.Rptr. 445.)
In contrast to City of Santa Rosa, nothing in the declaratory relief statutes prevented the City in this case from filing a declaratory relief action with regard to its prior decision denying disclosure under the CPRA. Pursuant to section 1060 of the Code of Civil Procedure, “[a]ny person interested under a written instrument ․ or under a contract, or who desires a declaration of his or her rights or duties with respect to another, or in respect to, in, over or upon property, ․ may, in cases of actual controversy relating to the legal rights and duties of the respective parties, bring an original action ․ for a declaration of his or her rights and duties in the premises, including a determination of any question of construction or validity arising under the instrument or contract.”
The purpose of declaratory relief is to liquidate uncertainties that might result in future litigation. (Roberts v. Reynolds (1963) 212 Cal.App.2d 818, 827, 28 Cal.Rptr. 261.) Code of Civil Procedure section 1060 is meant to provide a speedy and ready remedy in cases of actual controversy relating to the legal rights and duties of the respective parties. (Leahey v. Dept. of Water and Power of City of Los Angeles (1946) 76 Cal.App.2d 281, 285, 173 P.2d 69; see also Maguire v. Hibernia S. & L. Soc. (1944) 23 Cal.2d 719, 729, 146 P.2d 673 [the purpose of a declaratory relief judgment is “ ‘to serve some practical end in quieting or stabilizing an uncertain or disputed jural relation’ ”].)
“ ‘The “actual controversy” referred to in [Code of Civil Procedure section 1060] is one which admits of definitive and conclusive relief by judgment within the field of judicial administration, as distinguished from an advisory opinion upon a particular or hypothetical state of facts. The judgment must decree, not suggest, what the parties may or may not do. [Citations.]’ ” (Alameda County Land Use Assn. v. City of Hayward (1995) 38 Cal.App.4th 1716, 1722, 45 Cal.Rptr.2d 752, quoting Selby Realty Co. v. City of San Buenaventura (1973) 10 Cal.3d 110, 117, 109 Cal.Rptr. 799, 514 P.2d 111.) Consequently, “[a]n action for declaratory relief lies when the parties are in fundamental disagreement over the construction of particular legislation, or they dispute whether a public entity has engaged in conduct or established policies in violation of applicable law.” (38 Cal.App.4th at p. 1723, 45 Cal.Rptr.2d 752.)
b. Application of City of Santa Rosa to the present case.
The facts of the present case are fundamentally different than those in City of Santa Rosa in at least two important respects. First, the City in this case did in fact make a prior determination that the requested documents were confidential and exempt from disclosure under provisions of the CPRA. The City communicated that decision to Filarsky along with its legal justification for nondisclosure within the 10 days required by the CPRA. (See § 6253, subd. (c).) Filarsky stated during oral argument before this court that the City's initial denial of his request for documents was merely a “blanket denial” and was therefore an insufficient agency response under the CPRA. Whatever a “blanket denial” may be, it is clear to us that the City's letter denying Filarsky's request cannot be characterized as such.
Section 6253, subdivision (c) requires that the agency receiving a CPRA request make a determination “whether the request, in whole or in part, seeks copies of disclosable public records” and then “notify the person making the request of the determination and the reasons therefor.” The City did just that. Unlike City of Santa Rosa, where the public agency never made any prior disclosure determination, the City in this case was not seeking to avoid its legislatively mandated administrative discretion under the CPRA and have the trial court make the disclosure determination in the first instance. The City made the required decision and communicated it to Filarsky within the statutory period by providing statutory and case law citations supporting the reasons for its determination that the records were exempt from disclosure. The City therefore complied with the CPRA.
Second, this case is fundamentally different from City of Santa Rosa because Filarsky disagreed with the City's decision and its reasons for nondisclosure and let the City know of his disagreement. When the City refused to disclose the documents, Filarsky threatened the City with “court intervention” if he did not get them. The City again responded and gave its reasons for its prior decision that the requested documents were exempt from disclosure. Unlike City of Santa Rosa, where the newspaper never indicated any intention to file a court action if the requested documents were not produced, Filarsky did in fact communicate such intentions. These facts clearly demonstrate the existence of a fundamental disagreement or “actual controversy” over the City's prior decision that the documents Filarsky requested were exempt from disclosure under specific provisions of the CPRA.
In short, the City complied with the CPRA by making a decision of nondisclosure and was then threatened by an attorney with litigation if it did not comply with his request for records. Consequently, we hold there was an actual and live controversy between Filarsky and the City. The City's declaratory relief action thus was not inappropriate given the circumstances of this case.
We recognize the CPRA provides the person requesting documents from an agency may institute legal proceedings against the agency to enforce disclosure and that there is no similar provision in favor of an agency. (See § 6258.) If the person requesting records prevails in an action against the agency, the court must award reasonable attorney's fees. (See § 6259, subd. (d).) The agency may be awarded reasonable attorney's fees if the action filed against it is frivolous. (Ibid.) There is nothing in the CPRA, however, that abrogates application of the declaratory relief statutes when the dispute is over an agency's prior decision not to disclose records requested under the CPRA.
Section 1060 of the Code of Civil Procedure provides that “any person” who desires a declaration of rights or duties with respect to another may bring an action as long as all of the requisite elements of such an action are met. (See Hoyt v. Board of Civil Service Com'rs of City of Los Angeles (1942) 21 Cal.2d 399, 404-405, 132 P.2d 804 [“person” under Code of Civil Procedure section 1060 includes counties and municipal corporations].) Again, declaratory relief is appropriate “when the parties are in fundamental disagreement over the construction of particular legislation, or they dispute whether a public entity has engaged in conduct or established policies in violation of applicable law.” (Alameda County Land Use Assn. v. City of Hayward, supra, 38 Cal.App.4th at p. 1723, 45 Cal.Rptr.2d 752.)
We therefore conclude that neither the holding in City of Santa Rosa nor the provisions of the CPRA bar a public entity from seeking declaratory relief pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure section 1060 against a person requesting records under the CPRA if an actual justiciable controversy exists concerning its prior decision denying disclosure of the requested documents.
2. Marshall's employment application and background investigation are police “personnel records” under Penal Code section 832.7.
Filarsky also argues the City was wrong in its determination that the documents requested were exempt from disclosure. As we shall explain, the City's decision was proper because the requested documents fall within the CPRA's exemptions for disclosure.
a. Applicable statutory and case law.
The standard of review for this court in the CPRA process is to “conduct an independent review of the trial court's ruling; factual findings made by the trial court will be upheld if based on substantial evidence.” (Times Mirror Co. v. Superior Court (1991) 53 Cal.3d 1325, 1336, 283 Cal.Rptr. 893, 813 P.2d 240.)
Section 6250 of the CPRA provides that “access to information concerning the conduct of the people's business is a fundamental and necessary right of every person in this state.” The CPRA was adopted for the explicit purpose of increasing freedom of information by giving the public access to information in possession of public agencies. Thus, the CPRA provides “every person has a right to inspect any public record, except as hereafter provided.” (§ 6253, subd. (a).) Public records must therefore be disclosed unless they come within one or more of the many categories of documents exempt from disclosure listed in section 6254 or the “catch-all” exemption of section 6255. The general policy of disclosure reflected in the CPRA can only be accomplished by narrow construction of the statutory exemptions. (Fairley v. Superior Court (1998) 66 Cal.App.4th 1414, 1419-1420, 78 Cal.Rptr.2d 648.)
The City contends the documents Filarsky requested are not subject to disclosure because they are exempt under section 6254, subdivision (k). That section exempts “[r]ecords the disclosure of which is exempted or prohibited pursuant to federal or state law, including but not limited to, provisions of the Evidence Code relating to privilege.” The “state law” which the City points to is Penal Code section 832.7.
Penal Code section 832.7, subdivision (a), provides “[p]eace officer personnel records and records maintained by any state or local agency pursuant to Section 832.5, or information obtained from these records, are confidential and shall not be disclosed in any criminal or civil proceeding except by discovery pursuant to Sections 1043 and 1046 of the Evidence Code․” (Italics added.) Evidence Code sections 1043 and 1046 codify the motion and hearing procedures to obtain police personnel files established by Pitchess v. Superior Court (1974) 11 Cal.3d 531, 113 Cal.Rptr. 897, 522 P.2d 305. (City of Hemet v. Superior Court (1995) 37 Cal.App.4th 1411, 1428, fn. 18, 44 Cal.Rptr.2d 532 [also stating, “[B]y enacting Penal Code section 832.7, the Legislature has conclusively found that the desirability of confidentiality in police personnel matters does outweigh the public interest in openness”].)
Penal Code section 832.8 broadly defines “personnel records” to mean files maintained under an individual's name by his or her employing agency and containing records relating to (a) personal data (including marital status, family members, educational and employment history, home addresses or similar information); (b) medical history; (c) employee benefits; (d) employee advancement, appraisal, or discipline; (e) complaints, or investigations of complaints, concerning an event or transaction in which he or she participated, or which he or she perceived, and pertaining to the manner in which he or she performed his or her duties; and (f) “[a]ny other information the disclosure of which would constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.”
In City of Hemet, supra, a newspaper sought disclosure of certain internal investigation reports concerning the actions of a police officer. The court held the more specific provisions in the Penal and Evidence Codes, rather than the provisions of the CPRA, are applicable when a person seeks disclosure of peace officer personnel records. In describing the priority of the Penal and Evidence Code provisions over those in the CPRA, the court stated: “[T]he statutes contained in the Evidence and Penal Codes relating to police records establish specific criteria for disclosure of information which impose considerably more arduous requirements from the seeker, and are more zealous to protect the subject, than those contained in CPRA. The latter is, after all, founded upon a policy favoring disclosure, while the Evidence Code procedure begins from a presumption of confidentiality․ [¶] ․ [¶] ․ As between the CPRA and the post-Pitchess statutes, the latter clearly provide more protection to the law enforcement officer involved. The cases ․ which have considered the Penal and Evidence Code sections in contrast to the discovery provisions in the Code of Civil Procedure observed that the former were more specific and should reasonably [be] held to control over the more general provisions of the CPRA. [Citation.] We hold that the same rule applies here. The [newspaper's] request must be scrutinized under the standards set forth in the Evidence Code sections 1043-1045.” (City of Hemet v. Superior Court, supra, 37 Cal.App.4th at pp. 1425-1426, 44 Cal.Rptr.2d 532; see also Davis v. City of Sacramento (1994) 24 Cal.App.4th 393, 400, 29 Cal.Rptr.2d 232 [police personnel records remain confidential even after officer retires and may only be disclosed after following the specific procedures under the Penal and Evidence Codes]; Hackett v. Superior Court (1993) 13 Cal.App.4th 96, 100, 16 Cal.Rptr.2d 405 [ruling that personal information about a peace officer cannot be obtained through the discovery process even if it is available from other sources and that section 832.7 “was intended to create a privilege for all information in peace officers' personnel files”]; County of Los Angeles v. Superior Court (1990) 219 Cal.App.3d 1605, 1608, 269 Cal.Rptr. 187 [the Evidence Code, and not the Code of Civil Procedure, provides the exclusive means for obtaining discovery of peace officer personnel records]; City of San Diego v. Superior Court (1981) 136 Cal.App.3d 236, 239, 186 Cal.Rptr. 112 [“the statutes which protect personnel records and information from such records also protect the identical information about personnel history which is within the officers' personal recollections”].)
The court in City of Richmond v. Superior Court (1995) 32 Cal.App.4th 1430, 38 Cal.Rptr.2d 632, also ruled that the Penal and Evidence Codes governed a CPRA request for police personnel records. In City of Richmond, during its investigation of an incident of alleged excessive force, a newspaper made a CPRA request to the City of Richmond for information about complaints against the Richmond Police Department. The court stated the request was properly made under the CPRA because no litigation was pending. Nevertheless, the court concluded section 6254, subdivision (k)'s reference to exemptions provided by “state law” included the confidentiality imposed on peace officer personnel records by Penal Code section 832.7. (32 Cal.App.4th at pp. 1439-1441, 38 Cal.Rptr.2d 632.)
Thus, based upon the above cases, the law is now well-settled that the Penal and Evidence Codes govern disclosure of police personnel records and take priority over the discovery provisions of the Code of Civil Procedure as well as a citizen's request for public records under the CPRA.
b. Marshall's personnel records are confidential and exempt from disclosure.
Irrespective of the above cited relevant authority, Filarsky cites Bradshaw v. City of Los Angeles (1990) 221 Cal.App.3d 908, 270 Cal.Rptr. 711, and argues that Penal Code section 832.7 does not apply in this case because it merely precludes disclosure “in any criminal or civil proceeding” and not when a request is made under the CPRA.
In Bradshaw, the Los Angeles Police Department released the results of a public board of rights disciplinary hearing of a police officer. The officer sued the city for revealing confidential information in violation of Penal Code section 832.7. In affirming the court's sustaining of a demurrer, Bradshaw held the word “confidential” was merely descriptive and that personnel records “are confidential only in the sense that, as stated in the ensuing statutory language, such records, ‘shall not be disclosed in any criminal or civil proceeding except by [appropriate judicial] discovery․’ Since the statute specifically refers only to restrictions on disclosure in ‘criminal or civil proceedings,’ the statute thus does not prohibit a public agency from disclosing the records to the public.” (Bradshaw v. City of Los Angeles, supra, 221 Cal.App.3d at p. 916, 270 Cal.Rptr. 711.)
City of Hemet and City of Richmond, however, have disagreed with Bradshaw's analysis as going too far in refusing to give effect to the Legislature's pronouncement that police personnel records are “confidential.” Citing City of Richmond, the court in City of Hemet stated: “[T]he protection of Penal Code section 832.7 is illusory unless that statute is incorporated into CPRA through Government Code section 6254, subdivision (k). Logic does not permit the conclusion that information may be ‘confidential’ for one purpose, yet freely disclosable for another. In the court's apparent concern for allowing the city in that case [Bradshaw ] to disseminate information as a matter of legitimate public interest, the court put a gloss on the word ‘confidential’ which we cannot accept.” (City of Hemet v. Superior Court, supra, 37 Cal.App.4th at p. 1430, 44 Cal.Rptr.2d 532.)
We agree with the analysis of Penal Code section 832.7 in City of Hemet and City of Richmond and also conclude police personnel files are confidential beyond their use in civil or criminal proceedings and that they are absolutely privileged from disclosure under the CPRA by virtue of section 6254, subdivision (k). In addition, we conclude Bradshaw is factually distinguishable from this case because Bradshaw did not consider the propriety of a CPRA request but rather whether a complaint stated causes of action for invasion of privacy and negligence per se. The City of Richmond and City of Hemet cases are more closely analogous to the present case.
Accordingly, we hold (1) Marshall's employment application and resume, and (2) the City's investigation of Marshall's background as part of the application for employment are confidential police personnel records and not subject to disclosure. These records undoubtedly contain Marshall's personal data, educational and employment history, salary history, and record of discipline and termination, as well as the City's appraisal of Marshall as a candidate for employment, and thus are personnel records as defined in Penal Code section 832.8. Consequently, they are confidential pursuant to Penal Code section 832.7.
3. The eligibility list is also exempt from disclosure pursuant to section 6255.
The City further contends its nondisclosure of the eligibility list is justified under section 6255 of the CPRA. This section provides that the public agency may justify nondisclosure “by demonstrating that the record in question is exempt under express provisions of this chapter or that on the facts of the particular case the public interest served by not making the record public clearly outweighs the public interest served by disclosure of the record.” We agree.
In Wilson v. Superior Court (1996) 51 Cal.App.4th 1136, 59 Cal.Rptr.2d 537, a newspaper made a CPRA request for all applications submitted to the Governor for a vacancy on the Orange County Board of Supervisors. Wilson held that such records are exempted from disclosure under section 6255 based upon the “deliberative process privilege” articulated in Times Mirror Co. v. Superior Court, supra, 53 Cal.3d 1325, 283 Cal.Rptr. 893, 813 P.2d 240, which protects materials reflecting a public agency's deliberative or decision-making processes: “The applications are predecisional documents whose sole purpose is to aid the Governor in selecting gubernatorial appointees, a process which depends upon comparison of the qualifications of the candidates as shown in the applications and confidential, candid discussion of the candidates' professional competence, political views and private conduct.” (Wilson v. Superior Court, supra, 51 Cal.App.4th at p. 1143, 59 Cal.Rptr.2d 537.)
Here, the City provided the eligibility list to Filarsky but redacted the names of all applicants other than Marshall. We conclude that the eligibility list of applicants for the police captain position reflects the City's decision-making and deliberative process. The sole purpose for the list is to aid the City in the process of selecting a police captain by allowing comparison of the candidates. The list would disclose the identity of at least 28 applicants considered by the City, 18 of which were rejected, and two of which withdrew their candidacy. The list would also disclose the City's rating and evaluation of each eligible candidate. Disclosing the list thus would not only reveal the names and corresponding test scores of those applicants who were not selected, but also the judgment and mental process of the City in its selection process. Such disclosure would compromise the City's decision-making process and its ability to safeguard the names and rating scores of candidates who apply for such positions. The public interest in disclosure of the unredacted eligibility list is clearly outweighed by the public interest served in not making the list public. Therefore, we hold the City satisfied its burden of justifying nondisclosure and the trial court correctly affirmed its decision by granting declaratory relief in its favor.
The petition for writ of mandate is denied. Costs are awarded to the City.
1. Filarsky represented to the trial court in his trial brief that he no longer sought the oral board rating sheets. Therefore, we do not consider whether the City in response to Filarsky's CPRA request properly withheld these documents.
2. All further references are to the Government Code unless otherwise indicated.
CROSKEY, J., and KITCHING, J., concur.