Systemic Reform To Deal With Disclosure In California

The California Supreme Court ruled that law enforcement agencies can alert prosecutors that an officer expected to testify has a history of misconduct, overturning an appeal court’s decision that banned such disclosures. The Los Angles Times story begins:

The California Supreme Court decided unanimously Monday that the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and other law enforcement agencies may alert prosecutors that a deputy who might testify in a criminal case has a history of misconduct.

The decision was narrow, holding only that state confidentiality laws permit law enforcement agencies to alert prosecutors when an officer who is a potential witness has something in his or her background that might affect the outcome of the case.

Legal analysts said the ruling was likely to benefit the defense and possibly change the outcome of some cases but would not assure that relevant information about errant officers is disclosed.

The case before the court stemmed from a lawsuit filed by the L.A. deputies union to prevent former Sheriff Jim McDonnell from turning over to the district attorney about 300 names of deputies with a history of misconduct.

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