Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Association for LA Deputy Sheriffs v. Superior Court (Cal. Ct. App. - July 11, 2017)

This opinion should be taken up by the California Supreme Court.

It's a split opinion, with a dissent.  The deciding vote is cast (and the majority opinion written) by a superior court judge sitting by designation.  The underlying issue is an important one with widespread impact:  Whether the LA Sheriff's Department is allowed to tell prosecutors the names of officers in the department potentially guilty of serious misconduct, which in turn will help prosecutors to fulfill their Brady and related obligations in criminal cases.

The Court of Appeal says no; that this policy is impermissible.  Prosecutors, the Court of Appeal holds, not only have no duty to obtain this information, but the LASD cannot even voluntarily provide it to prosecutors.  Prosecutors instead have to file a motion.  A motion -- to be clear -- by one arm of the government (and prosecution) against another.

I'm skeptical of the result.  Very skeptical.  But even if the Court of Appeal is right on the merits, it's a critical issue, and one that should be decided by the California Supremes.