County Outside Counsel Work Product Not Part of CEQA Record Even If Disclosed To Real Party In Interest by Katharine E. Allen

California Oak Foundation v. County of Tehama et al. (Del Webb California Corp. et al.), ____ Cal. App. 4th ____ (June 11, 2009, No. CI58258)

Four letters sent to the County of Tehama and the Tehama County Board of Supervisors (collectively “Tehama”) and disclosed to real parties in interest by a law firm retained as outside counsel for the purpose of providing advice on compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act (“CEQA”) maintained their privileged status under the attorney-client and work product privileges despite the disclosure and thus did not need to be included in the administrative record. In so holding, the Court of Appeal for the Third Appellate District relied on the common interest doctrine to maintain the privileged status of the letters. The court did, however, reverse the judgment of the Superior Court of Tehama County on a separate issue related to the investigation of the financial feasibility of certain mitigation fees, with directions that the superior court enter a judgment requiring Tehama to reconsider the standard used in determining the economic feasibility of the underlying project.

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