District Attorneys Cannot Be Compelled To Provide Rap Sheets On Police Officers Says Appeals Court

The California Court of Appeals Ruled that DA’s are not required to provide a criminal defendant police officer rap sheets According to People vs. Coleman, here are the facts: Coleman was convicted of possession of cocaine base for sale. Prior to his trial, Coleman moved for an order pursuant to Brady v. Maryland (1963) 373 U.S. 83, Pitchess v. Superior Court (1974) 11 Cal.3d 531, and Penal Code section 1054.1 requiring the prosecution to provide discovery, including running rap sheets for all testifying prosecution witnesses. The trial court granted the motion in part and denied it in part, stating that it would not order rap sheets to be run on law enforcement officers. Coleman challenged this ruling on appeal. Held: Affirmed on this issue. Although the prosecution has a duty under Brady to learn of and disclose material impeachment information about police officer witnesses within the prosecution’s constructive possession, the prosecution cannot be forced to comply with its Brady duty to investigate in a particular manner. District attorneys have discretion to choose what mechanism will be used for ensuring that they learn of Brady material within their constructive possession. Brady does not empower a defendant to compel the prosecution to run rap sheets on police officer witnesses. However, the appellate court cautioned that prosecutors who investigate a police officer’s criminal history through mechanisms other than running rap sheets risk a future Brady challenge if favorable evidence is later discovered. The criminal trial court was also within its discretion to deny Coleman’s Pitchess motion because there was no rap sheet or criminal history in the officer’s file. Finally, section 1054.1 does not compel the prosecution to run a police officer witness’ rap sheet.

About thetorranceattorney

Matthew Ruff is a Torrance criminal defense attorney located near the 405 freeway on Crenshaw Blvd. Focusing on DUI and serious criminal cases for over twenty five years. In addition to criminal cases, Matthew also defends clients at the DMV regarding license suspension hearings stemming from drunk driving arrests.
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