Witness statements recorded or taken in writing by attorneys or their representatives aren’t privileged work product and, therefore, are open to discovery, a divided California appellate court ruled Thursday.

Surprisingly, the justices, including the dissenter, took the opportunity to harshly criticize a 14-year-old appellate ruling out of Sacramento that held just the opposite. The majority called it “cursory” and the dissent said the 1996 holding went “too far.”