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January 2019
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California Supreme Court Rejects Sheriffs' Union's Attempt To Block New Open Records Law

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There have been some pretty garbage responses to California's amendment of its open records laws, which rolls back the extreme level of opacity shielding police misconduct records. The City of Inglewood gave its police force a zero-accountability parting gift by granting it permission to destroy hundreds of officer-involved shooting files just prior to the new law taking effect.

Over in San Bernardino County, law enforcement -- or at least their union reps -- responded to the new law by petitioning the state Supreme Court for an injunction. The Sheriff's Employees' Benefit Association wanted the law blocked until it could be determined whether or not the law was retroactive. The union claimed making pre-2019 records available to the public would "violate [its] members' rights."

This ran contrary to the assessment of the actual Sheriff and the county's legal counsel, both of whom felt the law applied to old misconduct files.

“In anticipation of SB 1421 taking effect, the Sheriffs Department has been diligently reviewing the changes to the law and carefully considering how to implement these changes,” Blakemore wrote. “Based on this review, and on the advice of counsel, the Department intends to apply these changes retroactively.”

The union can't be thrilled about the new layer of accountability it will be facing going forward. But it seemed particularly aggrieved the new records law would affect old records it assumed would never be turned over to the public. The law doesn't state it only applies to records going forward, so it's reasonable to assume what was once considered non-public is now publicly-accessible.

The union has already heard back from the state's highest court and it's not getting the answer it wanted.

The California Supreme Court on Wednesday denied a sheriff union’s request to block a new state law that provides public access to past police-misconduct and use-of-force records.

The San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputies’ union sought an emergency intervention from the California Supreme Court to block the new law before the New Year.

This won't stop the legal challenges to the law -- not as long as it's not crystal clear whether retroactivity applies. But this at least allows the law to move forward, ensuring that any records generated past the point of enactment are truly public records. Anything prior to January 2019 is going to be hit-and-miss, as it appears state law enforcement agencies don't have a unified take on the law. This will probably be resolved sooner than later, as requests for these previously-secret records are already flowing in.

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Counterpoint: Maybe Athletes Should Rush To The Trademark Office... If They Play For Teams Like The Dallas Mavericks

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Over the past several years, we've covered the increasingly trendy practice of professional athletes rushing to the trademark office to register their nicknames and/or catchphrases. From Anthony Davis' unibrow, to Bryce Harper's flippant remarks, to Ryan Lochte channeling his inner bro-ness, up to and including Jeremy Lin's claim on his portmanteau nickname, we've raised our eyebrows at this sort of theory of ownership and protectionism that often times looks to make exclusive money over the coined phrases created by others. This sort of locking up of language was never really the point of trademark law, as we've pointed out, and we've suggested that athletes engaging in this sort of thing probably isn't the best thing for the public, the supposed beneficiary of trademark law.But perhaps we should introduce a caveat in our stance: if you play for the Dallas Mavericks, maybe you should rush to the trademark office. It seems that Luka Doncic, the rookie star of Mark Cuban's team, has had the trademark rug pulled out from underneath him by his employer.

One person in particular, Mike Pocopio, a development coach on the Mavs' staff, referred to Doncic as 'El Matador' and it stuck.Now, 'El Matador' and 'The Matador' have both been trademarked by the Mavs' after they registered the names with the United States Patent and Trademark Office.According to Josh Gerben, the Mavs want the exclusive rights to the name so, should Doncic leave the Mavs one day, he would no longer be able to call himself 'El Matador'.
That seems... pretty shitty? We have a rookie athlete doing a great job for his team, building a reputation for himself that results in a nickname, and then his team goes out to lock that nickname up... for what? So that if Doncic goes elsewhere, the team can reapply that nickname to a new player? Come on. What sure seems more likely is that the Mavericks know that Doncic is a thing in basketball circles and want to be able to trade off of their newest star player's persona to the exclusion of him. Not a great look, honestly.So, if athletes now want to claim that they are trademarking all of the things because they're afraid team ownership will undercut them in doing so, that seems valid now. Thanks to the Mavs.

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