Overturning an earlier state appeals decision, the state Supreme Court ruled Monday that the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department can disclose to prosecutors the misconduct history of deputies being called to testify in criminal cases.
The legal dispute stems from a “Brady list” — named after a 1963 U.S. Supreme Court case — of names of about 300 Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies with misconduct histories. In criminal cases, prosecutors are required by law to provide defense attorneys with any information that might bring into question the overall credibility of law enforcement officials testifying in a case.
But citing privacy and confidentiality concerns, the Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs, the union that represents deputies, sued to prevent the list — compiled during the administration of former Sheriff Jim McDonnell — from being turned over to prosecutors.
In 2017, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge James Chalfant found that providing the complete list would clash with state law, but he authorized the sheriff’s department to turn over names of problem deputies who might be scheduled to testify in an upcoming criminal case to comply with disclosure rules.
ALADS appealed the decision, and in mid-2017, a state appeals court sided with the deputies union, blocking the revelation of any names to prosecutors, even in the case of a deputy set to testify in a criminal case. The state Supreme Court on Monday, however, said state laws “permit such disclosure.”
The court found that the sheriff’s department would not violate state law “by sharing with prosecutors the fact that an officer, who is a potential witness in a pending criminal prosecution, may have relevant exonerating or impeaching material in that officer’s confidential personnel file.”
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