Judge finds lawsuit filed in time
Student newspaper can pursue case against U. of Calif. board
CALIFORNIA — The California Supreme Court refused in June to review a lower court decision to allow a student newspaper’s lawsuit against the Board of Regents of the University of California, who claimed it was filed too late.
In April, California Superior Court Judge William Cahill found the University of California at Santa Barbara’s student newspaper, the Daily Nexus, and staff member Tim Molloy’s lawsuit was sufficiently filed within the correct time, rejecting Wilson’s claim that it was not.
The Nexus and Molloy filed the lawsuit on Feb. 16, 1996, after they discovered Gov. Pete Wilson, who is a member of the board of regents, had allegedly contacted other regents before a meeting held on July 20, 1995, which ultimately ended affirmative action programs at the school.
The Nexus and Molloy claim the governor’s office lied about there being contact among regents before the meeting and failed to disclose phone records which would have shown that contact was made.
The suit seeks access to phone records from July 10 to 19 of last year under the state’s public records act.
It also contends that Wilson and the regents violated the open meetings act when they “initiated a series of contacts” over the phone.
California’s open meetings act states that actions such as those taken by the Nexus and Molloy must be initiated within 30 days of the violation.
But Judge Cahill wrote that “an absolute 30 days period to challenge a governmental action under the Bagley-Keene Open Meetings Act would frustrate the act’s underlying policy.”
The court wrote it would “leave the public without a remedy if the government decides to take an action behind closed door and conceal such facts from the public for 30 days after taking such actions.”
According to Judge Cahill, before the phone records could be made public, they need to be examined by the court. This issue is under further examination.
The paper’s lawsuit demands the Regents’ affirmative action vote be nullified.
Fall 1996, reports