Dear Assemblyman Muratsuchi:
My name is Arthur Schaper, a well-known constituent of Assemblyman Muratsuchi, currently living in the city of Torrance.
We need a legislative remedy as soon as possible regarding a very frustrating outcome that was unjust, yet transpired in the LA Federal Court on Friday, April 6th, 2018.
My friend Gary Gileno was convicted of a misdemeanor following his decision to bring a camera and then briefly record an exchange with a federal officer in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals building in Pasadena.
Here's a story about this miscarriage of justice in the Los Angeles Times:
An anti-illegal immigration activist who was given a $280 ticket for filming inside a federal building last year is fighting his case in federal court, arguing that he was attending a hearing for an L.A. sheriff's oversight commission that is bound by state open meetings laws that permit filming.
Why did Gary bring the camera? Because he was going to attend a public meeting of the Los Angeles County Sheriff Civilian Oversight Commission, a meeting which must abide by the Ralph M. Brown Act, aka the open meeting/transparency law established by the the state of California in the 1950s and expanded since then.
The Commission Chair, Robert Bonner--himself a former federal judge--admitted openly that he did not know about the Ralph M. Brown Act. See this article for proof:
L.A. Now ; L.A. County Sheriff oversight board holds public forum in federal courthouse, where cameras aren't allowed
He therefore moved a California public meeting, which falls under the purview of the Brown Act, into a federal building, which bars cameras, photography, video-recording etc. without a court order.
None of the unfair circumstances would have befallen Mr. Gileno if:
- The Chairman of the Commission was aware and informed of the Brown Act
- The federal officials in the building were informed of the Brown Act, and had been informed that a Brown-Act meeting was taking place in the federal courthouse.
I would add that any government body which fails to comply would face a fine and would negate any legislative actions taken by that legislative body, as well.
Transparency and publicity are essential securities for good government and against misrule. The public has a right to videotape public meetings under the purview of the Ralph M. Brown Act, and no misunderstand or mistake--like a commission moving their meeting to a setting with limited public access--should ever happen again.
Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.