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News from the Director

San Francisco Pitchess Cases
March 31, 2003

You have probably read that the San Francisco courts discovered that the police have maintained two separate personnel/disciplinary files on police officers, and that when Pitchess discovery motions were filed the police only turned over one of the files. The San Francisco Public Defender's office is working with the courts to determine how to deal with this issue. It may have affected as many as 1,300 cases, though at this point all facts/figures are very conjectural. (An interesting development is that the police, in their early explanation, stated that unnamed judges on the Superior Court instructed them to keep a hidden file! As noted, a lot of conjectures are circulating about this, and it will surely take some time to ferret out the truth.)

At this early stage, we do not have any specific advice about the matter. We expect to learn more over the next month. FDAP staff attorney Jonathan Soglin is coordinating things from our end, and if you have questions you can contact him. However, we anticipate that once a mechanism is set up in Superior Court for screening and dealing with these cases, we will notify the panel and see how panel attorneys might respond, if necessary, in a given case. Please stay tuned.


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