In a ruling that could have impacts on statewide public disclosure standards, a judge in Santa Clara County has ruled that officials’ communications sent on private devices are subject to freedom of information requests if they discuss municipal business. The lawsuit, which originated in 2009, had to do with messages sent between Mayor Chuck Reed and City officials sent on his private cell phone.

The ruling is being heralded as a major victory for open government advocates who have largely complained that technology has far outpaced disclosure laws. The ruling, they claim, closes a major loophole in the law.

The ruling contradicts a previous case from Tracy, where a newspaper lost its case while seeking similar information from local officials. Before the case can become a statewide precedent, it must survive potential appeals by San Jose. The Council hasn’t yet debated the merits of appealing.

Reed, who has championed open government ordinances for the City, signed new regulations in 2010 that would require similar records to be disclosed.

Read the full article at the Contra Costa Times.