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Judge Rules San Jose Officials’ Private Texts About City Affairs Be Made Public

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San Jose City Hall

San Jose City Hall (City of San Jose)

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SAN JOSE (CBS/AP) — A judge has ruled that San Jose officials’ private text messages, emails and other electronic communications about city affairs must be made public, in a decision with statewide implications.

Friday’s ruling was a victory for environmental activist Ted Smith, who sued San Jose four years ago over its refusal to disclose leaders’ personal electronic communications.

Open-government advocates cheered the decision, saying it will close a loophole in the state’s public records law.

City Attorney Rick Doyle could not say whether the city will appeal because he hasn’t discussed the decision with the City Council.

Smith had requested emails and texts sent to and from personal devices by Mayor Chuck Reed and other officials about city business including subsidizing a development project downtown.

Reed did not comment Tuesday.

San Jose State Political Science Professor Larry Gerston said elected officials will need to be aware that their communications are subject to scrutiny.

“This probably means that they’ll think twice about what they say and how they say it,” he said.

The city had previously said that disclosure of texts is problematic because official business is often mingled with personal matters.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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