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Victory for Center for Investigative Reporting: Public Disclosure of Citations issued to Facilities for Developmentally Disabled


In a major victory for the Center for Investigative Reporting and for advocates and the public, California's Supreme Court reversed an appellate court ruling that permitted the Department of Public Health to heavily redact citations issued to state owned long term care facilities for the Developmentally Disabled. A Public Records Act request to DPH in 2011 resulted in DPH releasing a total of 55 citations, most of them so heavily redacted that the pages were entirely blackened out. The Supreme court reversed and remanded with instructions for the Court of Appeal to deny DPH's petition for writ of mandate. According to the decision: "The trial court was correct: The Long-Term Care Act’s provisions are the later-enacted provisions, and they announce with detail and specificity the information that must be included in DPH citations in the public record. Because it is both the more specific and the later-enacted statute, the Long-Term Care Act is properly construed as a limited exception to section 5328’s general rule of patient and resident confidentiality. Accordingly, DPH citations issued under the Long-Term Care Act are public records and must be disclosed to the Center subject only to the specific redactions mandated by the Long-Term Care Act,…" i.e., the names of the affected patients or residents must be redacted from the publicly available version of the citation.
Read the decision here...