McManis Faulkner partner Christine Peek and independent journalist Lauren Smiley have been honored with the 2020 John Gothberg/Meritorious Service to SPJ NorCal Award from the Northern California chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. Peek and Smiley serve as co-chairs of the chapter’s Freedom of Information Committee.
SPJ NorCal works to support journalists throughout Northern California by engaging in, among other things, public advocacy and educational outreach to working journalists and journalism students. It is a chapter of the national Society of Professional Journalists, the nation’s most broad-based journalism organization.
The John Gothberg/Meritorious Service award recognizes individuals for their outstanding contributions to SPJ NorCal. In announcing the award, SPJ NorCal credited Peek’s and Smiley’s hard work defending journalists covering protests in the region and ensuring they have access to demonstration sites and public records.
Peek is an experienced advocate in public records cases, having successfully briefed the petitioner’s case in City of San Jose v. Superior Court, the unanimous California Supreme Court decision holding that when public employees use a personal account to communicate about the conduct of public business, the writings may be subject to disclosure under the California Public Records Act (“CPRA”). She also submitted an amicus brief on behalf of SPJ NorCal and the Pacific Media Workers Guild (The News Guild-CWA Local 39521) in National Lawyers Guild, San Francisco Bay Area Chapter v. City of Hayward (2017) 2 Cal.5th 608, in which the California Supreme Court held that public agencies cannot force people asking for public records to pay the costs of redacting government records that are stored electronically, including digital video footage shot on police body cameras. Peek is frequently consulted on issues arising under the CPRA.
In her practice, Peek represents businesses and individuals in a wide range of trial work, including trade secrets, complex commercial disputes, and municipal litigation. She received her J.D. from Santa Clara University School of Law (2004).