Police Departments Have to Turn Over Names of Bad Cops to Prosecutors

In a unanimous decision the California Supreme Court has held that law enforcement agencies have to turn over the names of dirty cops to DAs who have to turn those names over to defendants.  In California, information about dirty cops is available two ways: by looking at complaints in their personnel file through the Pitchess procedure (which I’ve discussed elsewhere) or the information is supposed to be disclosed by the prosecution if it is “favorable to [the] accused” and “material either to guilt or to punishment.”

The Association of the Los Angeles County Sheriff objected to letting the Sheriff disclose the information about their bad cops to the DA, so they could turn it over to the defense. The trial court and court of appeal said the Sheriff couldn’t disclose the information outside of the Pitchess procedure. Essentially protecting dirty cops.

The California Supreme Court said “No”. Under the case of Brady v. Maryland, the prosecution has a duty to disclose information that is “favorable to the accused” or material either to guilt or to punishment”. This means that defendants get this information without going through the process of Pitchess and including information that is not in their personnel file. Police and sheriff departments are notorious for withholding this information. Prior to this the law went as far as requiring a Pitchess motion to obtain a cops driver’s license number. This is a great victory for civil rights and throwing light on bad cops.

If you are the victim of arrest or investigation by bad cops, call me at 213-893-8640 to discuss your case.


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