New 2020 Legislation On Pitchess Motions

Top Torrance Criminal Lawyer

Matthew Ruff, Torrance Criminal Defense Attorney

California law allows for the discovery of acts of misconduct on the part of police officers in a criminal prosecution.  In order to get information about misconduct from an officer’s personnel file the attorney must file what is called a Pitchess Motion in Court.  The procedures for the filing of a motion were recently amended starting in 2020.

Evidence Code 1043-1046 provides that a Pitchess motion (Pitchess v Superior Court (1974) 11 Cal.3d 531), be filed pursuant to certain time constraints.  The service of the motion must be made on the law enforcement agency that maintains the records. The new law (AB 1600) amends Evidence Code § 1043 to require written notice in criminal cases to be served on the police agency and filed in Court at least 10 court days before the appointed hearing, all oppositions to be filed with the court at least 5 court days before the hearing, and all replies to be filed at least 2 court days before the hearing. AB 1600 also requires proof of service of the notice to be filed no later than 5 court days before the hearing.

Compliance with the procedures is crucial in order for the motion to be heard by the Court.  If the notice is insufficient you can expect the attorney representing the records custodian to object and ask that the hearing not take place.

Here is a summary of the new California laws relating to discovery of police Officer personnel files in criminal cases:

Evid. Code § 1043 (Amended; AB 1600): Time Limitations on Pitchess Motions:
The notice requirements for the filing of a motion to discover peace officer personnel files in criminal cases (i.e., a “Pitchess motion,” per Pitchess v. Superior Court (1974) 11 Cal.3d 531) have been modified as follows:
Filing of the motion; from 16 court days before the hearing to at least 10 days.
Filing of the opposition; at least 10 court days before the hearing.
Filing of a reply brief; at least 2 court days before the hearing.
Upon receipt of a motion for peace officer personnel records, the governmental
agency involved must immediately notify the officer whose records are sought.
See also Code of Civ. Proc. § 1005, making existing notice requirements for a Pitchess motion (at least 16 court days before the hearing), applicable only in civil cases.

If you or someone you know is facing criminal charges in Torrance Court or any other Court in Los Angeles County call Top Rated Torrance Criminal Defense Lawyer Matthew Ruff at 310-527-4100.

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 years. In addition to criminal cases, Matthew also defends clients at the DMV.
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