“Sunshine Boy” attorney to speak on public records law

California Lawyer BoylanPaul Boylan, an attorney specializing in using public records in investigative reporting, will visit Newsroom by the Bay at Stanford this summer to talk with students about California’s Public Records Act.

Boylan specializes in helping journalists make sure that local governments are open and transparent, for example, filing more than two dozen cases over a period of five years on behalf of Tim Crews, publisher of the Sacramento Valley Mirror.

In Crews v. Superior Court, Boylan used the Public Records Act to compel the Glenn County Superior Court to divulge financial records. The case is credited with prompting California’s Judicial Council to pass a new rule that grants broader access to judicial administrative records.

Boylan also forced the Roseville joint Union High School District to hand over files and pay $300,000 in attorneys’ fees in a 2011 case involving a student who was thrown off his high school basketball team for posting a satirical hip-hop video about youth drug culture on YouTube.

In addition to his legal work, Boylan has also served as an adjunct professor at the McGeorge School of Law at the University of the Pacific in Sacramento.

“You’re not going to get rich doing public records cases,” Boylan told California Lawyer, which put Boylan and Crews on its cover in August 2010 and called them “The Sunshine Boys” for their work in making sure local governments follow California’s “sunshine” law, which requires local governments to hold open meetings or tell the public when they are not. “But it’s really interesting work.”

“It’s fun getting public records that someone’s trying to hold back,” he added. “It’s fun when they underestimate you. It’s fun creating attitude adjustments. It’s just fun.”

Through the CalPress Foundation, Boylan also is a generous supporter of NBTB’s Scholars program. We look forward to his visit.

—Featured photo: “Press Freedom Scrabble” by Jeff Djevdet on Flickr.com/Creative Commons 2.0. 


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