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The Fourth of July holiday couldn't have come at a better time for City Attorney Jan Goldsmith. The Independence Day break may provide Goldsmith some time to reflect on, and deflect, the criticism directed at his office for prosecuting a man for drawing protest slogans in chalk.

Unfortunately for Goldsmith, the break couldn't come soon enough.

On Wednesday, July 3, attorney Cory Briggs filed a lawsuit in Superior Court over the City Attorney's refusal to release the complete transcript from a June 18 closed session meeting where Mayor Bob Filner tossed one of Goldsmith's right-hand man from the room.

"[San Diegans for Open Government] brings this lawsuit under the California Public Records Act ("CPRA"). San Diego Mayor Bob Filner and City Attorney Jan Goldsmith are locked in what appears to many onlookers like a no-holds-barred political death spiral, with each trying to undermine or humiliate the other on practically every aspect of the other's essential job functions. What they cannot seem to appreciate--or perhaps they hate each other so much that they just don't care--is that they are taking the City down with them," reads the lawsuit.

"Anyone who regularly seeks information from the City under the CPRA knows that a two-day response to a request for public records is about as rare as Halley's Comet--even when the records already exist at the time the request is made. Furthermore, the redacted transcript omits numerous statements by other participants in the closed-session meeting, leaving the public able to do nothing more than speculate about those participants' role in the Filner-Jones encounter."

But there's another issue. How was the transcript released in the first place.

The requirements for disclosing information from a closed-session meeting were included in a June 28 letter from Goldsmith's office to lawyer Briggs.

"Under the Brown Act, confidential information from a closed session [meeting]...may not be disclosed to a person not entitled to receive it, unless the legislative body authorizes disclosure of the that confidential information. Thus, no further disclosable public documents exist."

But Council President Todd Gloria says he was not aware of any such vote taking place.

On July 3, Gloria's Chief of Staff confirmed that Gloria "is not aware of any vote that took place to release the record" for the June 18 closed-session meeting.

In a brief statement from the City Attorney's Office, interim spokesperson Michael Giorgino issued the following statement.

"The transcript we provided to the media contained no confidential information."

Georgino included the same memo and explanation provided to 10News two days after the meeting took place.

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Comments

BlueSouthPark July 3, 2013 @ 6:11 p.m.

Goldy loves to shade everything, grabbing phrases midsentence to allow him to do whatever he wants. He's the Interpreter in Chief in town. May the gods of truth and justice smack him down.

One interpretation is that any closed session discourse between Filner and Jones was confidential. Maybe Judge Shore could decide if we have a Freedom of Speech issue here.

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sarahguzman July 6, 2013 @ 7:31 a.m.

By releasing the partial transcript, Goldsmith effectively waived the privilege for the entire transcript of the closed session, not just for the non agenda items. Worst case scenario for Goldsmith, he is ordered to release the entire transcript, and he is sanctioned for releasing privileged closed session minutes without the Legislative Body's required vote, which are specifically described as not a public record under the Brown Act. This after Chalk Gate should keep Goldsmith from running again to the Feds complaining about the Mayor's efforts to protect the average folks. The Feds have major concerns such as international terrorism, Snowden, and other heavy duty stuff, and the Feds are not going to fall for their own Chalk Gate in sunny San Diego.

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gwhaley03 Aug. 25, 2013 @ 4:48 p.m.

Atty. Goldsmith should know privilege is not for Counsel's benefit, rather, it's for the client's benefit.

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