For the third time in a week, City of Sacramento emails are the subject of a court case.
Paul Boylan is the attorney for the plaintiffs in Sacramento Superior Court. His clients are requesting a temporary restraining order to prohibit the city from deleting old emails. Deletion is scheduled to begin this week.
"If the city destroys those records on July 8th, as they intend to do, they will completely eliminate the public's right to access those records."
Wendy Klock-Johnson is the Assistant City Clerk. She says emails with important information have already been saved.
"Staff is responsible for moving those emails out of the email system and storing them in their project files," she says. "Or, for example, if it's the clerks office, we would be storing them with a council-meeting file."
Klock-Johnson says the email-deletion policy was put in place in 2010, but the city did not have the technology to delete what it is calling "transitory emails" until now.
According to Boylan, both state and local law should allow for review of public documents.
"We have a conflict between the California Public Records Act and the California Constitution against a very small piece of the government code that allows government agencies to regulate and to manage records," he says.
Wendy Klock-Johnson is the Assistant City Clerk. She says policy calls for emails with important information to be saved immediately in a file separate from the email server.
"Back when the transitory communications weren't email. They were little yellow notes that said, 'While you were out' and our assistants taped 'em to the door," she says. "Staff has always been in the business of saving records and keeping them appropriately. This is not different. The medium is different."
The city says there are at least 81-million emails on its servers.