2017 California Public Records & Open Meetings Conference

Presented by the Public Law Section with the participation of the Environmental Law and Litigation Sections 

Friday, May 19, 2017
UC Berkeley School of Law—Booth Auditorium
2770 Bancroft Way
Berkeley, CA 94704

Earn 6 hours MCLE credit, including one hour in Legal Ethics!


Registration deadline is Friday, May 12, 2017.

Program Schedule | Essential Info | Printable Brochure | Mail/Fax Reg. Form 


Gold Sponsors

  • Burke, Williams & Sorensen, LLP
  • Richards, Watson & Gershon

Silver Sponsors

  • Colantuono Highsmith & Ehatley, PC
  • Best Best and Krieger


Program Schedule

Registration & Continental Breakfast

8:15 a.m. - 9 a.m.

Opening Remarks

Professor Claudia Polsky will offer a three-dimensional perspective on realworld operation of open records and open meeting laws.


  • Claudia Polsky, Director, Berkeley Law Environmental Law Clinic; Assistant Clinical Professor

9 a.m. - 9:15 a.m.

Brown Act Traps and Escape Routes

This session will briefly introduce the Brown Act and explore the intersection of the Brown Act and the management of difficult situations arising in public agency meetings, including serial meetings, posting agendas, continuing meetings, special meetings, ad hoc and standing committees, and much more under the Brown Act, Government Code Sections 54950-54962.


  • Michael Jenkins, City Attorney, West Hollywood and Partner, Jenkins & Hogin
  • Christi Hogin, City Attorney for the cities of Lomita, Malibu and Palos Verdes Estates and Partner, Jenkins & Hogin
9:15 a.m. - 10:30 a.m.


10:30 a.m. - 10:45 a.m.

Handling Difficult Meetings and Closed Sessions

Public meetings can present serious challenges to even the most competent attorneys. This session will be devoted to handling these situations under the Brown Act, and the Bagley-Keene Act. The discussion will include handling unruly public meetings, ethical issues that arise when public officials’ legal concerns conflict with the public entity’s interests, handling unanticipated legal questions, and fixing prior erroneous legal advice. Finally, speakers will discuss approaches to addressing contentious closed sessions, including concerns about discussions and written materials being made public.


  • Ted Prim, Deputy Attorney General, California Department of Justice
  • Greg Stepanicich, Shareholder, Richards, Watson & Gershon
  • Danny Wan, Port Attorney, Port of Oakland
10:45 a.m. - 12 noon

Networking Lunch

12 noon - 12:30 p.m.

Keynote Speaker - David Greene, Civil Liberties Director and Senior Staff Attorney for t he Electronic Frontier Foundation

In an age of “alternative facts,” the transparency of government agencies is more important than ever. At the same time, citizens are concerned about digital privacy information collected and risk security breaches. Electronic Frontier Foundation Civil Liberties Director David Greene will discuss the role of public records requests in ensuring good government, WikiLeaks and document dumps, and California’s role in protecting the digital privacy and rights of its residents.


  • David Greene, Civil Liberties Director and Senior Staff Attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation
12:30 p.m. - 1 p.m.


1 p.m. - 1:10 p.m.

Prosecuting and Defending Writs

Filing open meeting and Public Record Act writs is a unique process full of hidden pitfalls and defenses. This session will describe the nuances of this process, as well as practical advice in avoiding costly mistakes and suggestions for optimizing your client’s results. The session will also explore the PRA’s strategic use before and during litigation and how public entities can effectively respond to these challenges.


  • Michael Colantuono, Shareholder, Colantuono, Highsmith & Whatley
1:10 p.m. - 1:55 p.m.


1:55 p.m. - 2:05 p.m.

Do you know the way from the City of San Jose: The Public Records Act and Private Emails

The California Supreme Court has ruled that messages on a public employee or public official’s private devices and accounts may be subject to the Public Records Act. In light of the ruling, this presentation will suggest best practices for public agencies and spotlight the questions left unanswered by the opinion.


  • Hong Dao Nguyen, Associate, Best Best & Krieger LLP
2:05 p.m. - 2:35 p.m.


2:35 p.m. - 2:45 p.m.

Best Practices and Policies Regarding Record Retention in a Digital Age

Retaining records is more than just managing your hard copy filing system. In today’s electronic age, the largest quantity of records are found on electronic systems, and can include emails, video files, text messages, social media pages, handheld devices, and databases. This session will focus on best practices for public agencies to implement to effectively manage the proliferation, retention, and production of electronic data.


  • J. Leah Castella, Partner, Burke Williams and Sorensen
  • Aaron Mackey, Frank Stanton Legal Fellow, Electronic Frontier Foundation
2:45 p.m. - 3:30 p.m.


3:30 p.m. - 3:40 p.m.

Ethical Issues in Open Government Law

This session will address ethical issues that arise when advising clients on open records and open meetings law, including determining who your client is for purposes of the attorney-client privilege, advising the recalcitrant client, the attorney’s obligations (or not) to disclose breaches or violations of open government law, and more.


  • Julie Hayward Biggs, Partner, Aleshire & Wynder LLP
3:40 p.m. - 4:40 p.m.

Networking Reception

4:40 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.

Essential Info

Printable Brochure

For your convenience, we're providing a printable brochure that replicates the information on this web page.

Register Online

Click here to register online.

Register by Mail or Fax

Print out and complete the Mail / Fax Reg. Form and return it with payment to The State Bar of California. In order to pre-register, your form and check, payable to The State Bar of California, or credit card information, must be received by Friday, May 12, 2017.

Mail To:

Program Registrations
The State Bar of California
180 Howard Street
San Francisco, CA 94105

Or Fax To:

Program Registration at 415-538-2368. In order to fax your registration, credit card information is MANDATORY. (Photocopies of checks will NOT be accepted.)

Pre-Registration Fees

  • $175 for Public Law Section members
  • $225 for Non-Section members (includes membership in the Public Law Section for 2017)
  • $150 for Paralegals/Non attorneys
  • $100 for Full-time Law Students

On-Site Registration

On-site registration will be on a space available basis. Call to confirm space availability. Please register in advance.

Cancellations / Refund Policy

Cancellations and request for refunds must be received in writing by May 12, 2017 and are subject to a $50 service charge. Substitute registrants are allowed but must register in their own name at the meeting to receive MCLE credit.

Special Assistance

For special assistance, please call 415-538-2248.


For registration questions please call 415-538-2508. Telephone registrations will not be accepted. For program content and/or section information please call 415-538-2248.


All CA members that have been in practice 5 years or less OR are 36 years old or younger: Now offering 25% off registration. Call (415) 538-2248 for more information.


The State Bar of California and the Public Law Section are approved State Bar of California MCLE providers.