Van De Kamp, 061584 CAAGO, AGO 83-1103

Docket Nº:AGO 83-1103
Case Date:June 15, 1984
Court:California
 
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JOHN K. VAN DE KAMP Attorney General
CLAYTON P. ROCHE Deputy Attorney General
AGO 83-1103
No. 83-1103
California Attorney General Opinion
Office of the Attorney General State of California
June 15, 1984
         THE HONORABLE RONALD M. KURTZ, EXECUTIVE OFFICER, CALIFORNIA STATE PERSONNEL BOARD, has requested an opinion on a question we have rephrased as follows:          Does the Information Practices Act of 1977 override the attorney-client privilege where an individual seeks access to information about himself which is maintained by a state agency and which falls within the scope of that privilege?          CONCLUSION          The Information Practices Act of 1977 does not override the attorney-client privilege as to information sought by an individual about himself which is maintained by a state agency and which falls within the scope of that privilege.          ANALYSIS          The Information Practices Act of 1977 (hereinafter "Act") is contained in sections 1798 through 1798.76 of the Civil Code.1 It was enacted to protect an individual's right of privacy guaranteed by article I, section 1, of the California Constitution and by the United States Constitution with respect to "personal" and "confidential" information (as defined by the Act) which is collected, maintained and disseminated by the state (§§ 1798.1, 1798.2). The Act is administered by the Office of Information Practices in the Executive Office of the State Personnel Board. (§§ 1798.4-1798.8.) Each state agency maintaining "personal" or "confidential" information must notify the Office of Information Practices of such records, their purposes and use, disclosure which will be made of the records, the legal authority for maintaining the records, and other matters with respect thereto. (§§ 1798.9- 1798.10.)          With respect to disclosure of records, the Act prescribes that "[n]o agency may disclose any personal or confidential information unless the disclosure of such information" is pursuant to or in accordance with one of twenty-one listed conditions. (§ 1798.24.) The first of such conditions is:
"(a) Pursuant to an unsolicited written request, or an oral request which is accompanied by adequate indication of identity, by the individual to whom the record pertains."2
         Article 8 of the Act (§§ 1798.30-1798.43) then provides that:
"(a) Each agency shall permit any individual upon request and proper identification to inspect all the personal information in any record containing personal information and maintained by reference to an identifying particular assigned to such individual . . . ." (§ 1798.34; emphasis added.)
         Article 8 however further provides that a state agency need not disclose to an individual any confidential information about that individual. (See § 1798.40.)          The question presented for resolution herein is whether the Information Practices Act of 1977 overrides the attorney-client privilege3 where an individual seeks access to information about himself which is maintained by a state agency and which falls within the scope of that privilege. For example, suppose a state agency has sought the advice of house counsel or the Attorney General as to whether certain conduct by a state employee constitutes sufficient grounds for punitive action against the employee. May the state employee inspect counsel's written evaluation of such situation which is given to the appointing power by counsel? Or. suppose a state agency hires a consultant and a dispute arises as to whether the consultant has properly performed under his contract. The matter is referred to house counsel or the Attorney General for advice. May the consultant inspect the advice of counsel which has been reduced to writing and transmitted to the board? Or. suppose the Department of Motor Vehicles seeks the advice of house counsel or the Attorney General as to whether a certain physical impairment constitutes grounds for revocation of a particular individual's driver's license. May the driver inspect counsel's reply to the department? In short, what is the impact of the Information Practices Act of 1977 upon the attorney-client privilege?          A resolution of this question requires an examination of the interrelationship of the Act with other relevant laws, including not only the attorney-client privilege, but also the California Public Records Act, Government Code, section 6250 et seq. It further requires a determination as to whether information about an individual...

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