• Sacramento:   (916) 446-5297
  • San Francisco:   (415) 266-1800

Review Granted of Decision that Law Enforcement Agencies Cannot Voluntarily Provide Brady Materials to the DA or Public Defender

   Published on:  12 Oct, 2017

Back in July, we told you about the controversial ruling in Ass’n for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs v. Superior Court of County of Los Angeles (Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department). See 13 JUL, 2017 post.

Unsurprisingly, the Supreme Court granted the Sheriff’s Department’s petition for review. The extent of the court of appeal ruling surprised many of us. It prohibited employers of peace officers from voluntarily sharing any Brady information with prosecutors or public defenders outside of a full Pitchess process — even if it involved a potential witness in a pending criminal prosecution. The court of appeal decision was a split 2-1 decision.

Usually, after the losing party in the court of appeal petitions the Supreme Court for review, and answering and reply briefs are filed — including any amicus curiae (friends of the court) letters supporting or opposing review — the Court will rule within its statutory deadline, at times even extending its own deadline (as it is authorized to do). Nonetheless, in this case, the Supreme Court granted review the day following the parties’ last filing.

The Supreme Court has asked the parties to brief only the question of whether the law enforcement agency may disclose the names of officers who are potential witnesses in a pending criminal prosecution or whether such disclosure may only occur if a court order issues following a properly filed Pitchess motion. This suggests that the Supreme Court does not necessarily disagree with the court of appeal’s conclusion that departments cannot simply create lengthy Brady lists and voluntarily release them outside of the Pitchess process without regard to any specific pending criminal prosecution.

If you have any questions about this alert, please contact Gregg Adam at 415.266.1801 or gregg@majlabor.com.