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Convictions In Question

Publication Date: 
May 04, 2010
Source: 
KCBS All News Radio

Professor Robert Weisberg explains the latest controversy surrounding the already-embattled SFPD on KCBS All News Radio:

"There are several levels of the law. There's a famous California case called Pictchess and it resulted in the notion called the Pitchess motion. And ultimately something that got put into the California evidence code where a defense lawyer requests information about a police officer's criminal or misconduct record where the lawyer can make any reasonable claim that the record might be relevant to the case, especially where the police officer's conduct is somehow related to the investigation or to the actual criminal behavior. Then the prosecutor on behalf of the police has to turn the information over. It's pretty strict. It's pretty clear. Pitchess motions are very, very well developed in California. Every website for every DUI lawyer in California says, 'I know how to do a Pitchess motion.'"

"So it's entirely likely that a lot of withheld information here needed to be turned over. In addition to the constitutional doctrine under the due process clause, there is the so called Brady Doctrine, which would state that even if the defense lawyer didn't request the information, if it turned out that it would have been exculpatory in some way -- extremely material to the case, which is going to be true in some cases and not others -- then it's a constitutional violation for the prosecution or the police to not turn the information over, even if they haven't been asked.