One who intends to leave others better off for his having existed.


An email conversation between Mujeeb Shah-Khan and Roch Smith Jr. - Subject: Six month-old [June 29, 2013] records request update requested

Now that the election is over and Denise is on her way out after Robbie Perkins, Greensboro City Attorney Mujeeb Shah-Khan has found it appropriate to release videos requested before the election to Roch and myself.

This is video of the incident Roy Carroll inaccurately wrote of in last week's Rhino Times, which Robbie Perkins and friends used to pass a restrictive curfew for mostly black teens downtown;
Dear Mr. Shah Khan,

On July 5th of last year, I requested all video recordings in the City's possession of the downtown area for a six hour period spanning June 19th, and June 30th, 2013. This was a time during which local media reported a "400 teen brawl" and led Council to adopt a downtown teen curfew.

For months now, the City Manager's Items for Your Information has been reporting that your department has been "determining" what is publicly releasable in response to this request. To this day, I have not received any video in response to this six-month old request.

I am asking you to provide the following information as it relates to this public records request:

1. How many hours of video footage does the city have responsive to this request?

2. How many hours has the legal department spent reviewing the footage over the past six month?

3. How much more time do you anticipate will be required to complete the review of the video?

Thank you in advance.

Roch Smith, Jr.
January 08, 2014
Mr. Smith:

The City will be releasing the video requested. We do this with the understanding that the City has the ability to protect the video as criminal intelligence information, in accordance with N.C.G.S. 132-1.4, which makes it not a public record. I've authorized the release, and the City will produce the video soon.

However, as six months have passed since the time the video was created, the City is willing to produce this at this time. It does not mean we are setting a blanket policy that six months after an event, video may be produced.

In terms of your questions, I'll note the following. I do not know the amount of video involved. The video was reviewed by GPD. My office's involvement concerns the issue of whether or not the video as criminal intelligence information is public record. While I and my office believe that the video is indeed criminal intelligence information and is not public record, we feel that it's utility is lessened given the amount of time passed.

S. Mujeeb Shah-Khan
It appears Mujeeb has a history of holding back political public records requests.

Mujeeb seems to consider City Council his clients as opposed to Greensboro's voters.

I believe Mujeeb covered Robbie and Denise's butts until after the election on this and other items.

The issue now is timing.

Why did the videos take so long to be released?

How long were they ready before being released?

Were the videos ready before the election?


keith brown said...

Q: Are city-owned and operated surveillance camera recordings of public areas subject to disclosure in accordance with the California Public Records Law?

A: Under the Public Records Act, public records — which include “any writing containing information relating to the conduct of the public’s business prepared, owned, used, or retained by any state or local agency regardless of physical form or characteristics,” Gov’t Code section 6252(e) — are presumed to be open to the public and must be disclosed unless a specific provision of the Act or other law exempts them from disclosure. “Writing” includes not only writings in the traditional sense, but “every other means of recording upon any tangible thing any form of communication or representation, including letters, words, pictures, sounds, or symbols, or combinations thereof, and any record thereby created, regardless of the manner in which the record has been stored.” Gov’t Code section 6252(g). Thus, it appears that surveillance camera recordings would be covered under the Act:

“The Act contains numerous exemptions, including certain types of police records, specifically: [r]ecords of complaints to, or investigations conducted by, or records of intelligence information or security procedures of, the office of the Attorney General and the Department of Justice, the California Emergency Management Agency, and any family:state or local police agency, or any investigatory or security files compiled by any other state or local police agency, or any investigatory or security files compiled by any other state or local agency for correctional, law enforcement, or licensing purposes.
Gov’t Code section 6254(f).”

It is unclear from your email whether these surveillance cameras are maintained by the city’s police department or the city itself. If they are not “records of intelligence information or security procedures of” the police department, but rather tapes that are maintained by some other city agency, then it would seem that you should have access to the video recordings regardless of their purpose. If they are maintained by the city police department, you should still have access to any portions of those videotapes that were not specifically created for or used as part of an investigation. See Williams ; . Sup. Ct., 5 Cal. 4th 337, 356 (1993). In other words, the recordings should only be exempt if there is a “concrete and definite prospect” of actual enforcement proceedings, i.e., the tapes contain footage showing a crime in progress that will be used as part of a police investigation. Id.

More information about the Public Records Act, including sample request letters, may be found at the First Amendment Coalition’s website, locatedon this website, here: Access to Records.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Keith.