California justices deny challenge to new police records law

The California Supreme Court has denied a last-minute challenge to a state law that opens police records to the public and eases what currently is one of the nation's most secretive police privacy laws.

The high court denied a police union's petition contending that the law should make public police records only for incidents that happen after the law took effect Tuesday. However, a Los Angeles County judge blocked the release of old records in the state's largest city until a Feb. 5 court hearing.

Neither court ruled on the merits of the case in their brief orders.

The law was passed in response to national distress over a series of fatal police shootings of unarmed minority men, but applies only when officers are found to have improperly used force or discharged firearms, committed sexual assaults on the job, or have been dishonest in official duties.

The San Bernardino County sheriff's deputies union asked the Supreme Court to find that the law should only apply to incidents in 2019 or later because the law "contains no legislative direction for a retroactive application."

Dawn Kamber