California’s 1st District Court of Appeal has served notice that there will be oral arguments on October 26 in Muchnick v. University of California Regents, our five-year-old litigation under the California Public Records Act.
In 2017 I sued the university in Alameda County Superior Court for emails and other internal documents relating to the 2014 conditioning drill death of Cal-Berkeley football player Ted Agu. Through various court-ordered processes, UC produced more than 700 previously withheld pages, which in my reporting and analysis added to evidence of a cover-up of the circumstances of the death, from an exertional attack associated with sickle cell trait.
Last year Judge Jeffrey Brand ruled that I was the prevailing party and ordered the parties to attempt to negotiate a settlement of the fees of my attorney Roy S. Gordet. We came to an agreement in the amount of $125,000. However, the university then appealed the court’s ruling that I was the prevailing party.
In briefing at the Court of Appeal, UC not only has pressed its argument that our side is not entitled to reimbursement of fees. The university also has doubled down on its lower court argument that my CPRA petition was “clearly frivolous” and hence should expose me to payment of its fees.
In March, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press filed a “friend of the court” brief on behalf of Concussion Inc. The brief argued that UC’s characterization of my case as “clearly frivolous” both is meritless and “seeks to chill future public records litigation.” The First Amendment group also said that the university’s defense of withheld records by citing the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act is overbroad.
“Concussion Inc.’s Brief Defending Against the University of California’s Appeal of Our Public Records Act Victory in the Ted Agu Football Conditioning Death Cover-Up Was Filed – Here Are Extended Excerpts,” March 4, https://concussioninc.net/?p=14949
FULL BRIEF BY THE REPORTERS COMMITTEE FOR FREEDOM OF THE PRESS, March 25, https://concussioninc.net/?p=14973