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News from the Director

San Francisco Pitchess Update
April 25, 2003

As I'm sure many of you know, it has come to light that the San Francisco Police Department has kept two sets of files regarding police misconduct, a regular file and a "PIP" (Performance Improvement Program) file. When Pitchess motions (Pitchess v. Superior Court (1974) 11 Cal.3d 531) have been filed for discovery of police officer misconduct information, the Police Department has provided information from the regular file but not from the PIP file. In one recent case, it was shown that the PIP file contained an extensive memo regarding misconduct of the officer, but the regular file did not. The practice of not disclosing the PIP file may go back as far as at least December 2000, and possibly as far back as 1997 for some cases.

The San Francisco Public Defender office has been meeting with the police and court and city officials about this matter. It appears that hundreds of cases were affected. At this point, there is no mechanism established for review of those cases. It is not clear if and/or when such a mechanism will be established.

At this point I am just writing to ask you to let me know if you have:

- an open appeal (i.e., not yet final)

- in which there was a Pitchess motion made at trial (it doesn't matter if the motion was granted or denied, and it doesn't matter if the Pitchess motion is or is not an issue which you have considered raising in the appeal prior to these current revelations).


I am not sure what advice we will be giving you regarding such cases, but initially we would like to identify such open appeals. Thus, please email, write, or call me to let me know if you have such an appeal, and if so: (1) the case number; (2) current status of the appeal; (3) whether the Pitchess motion was granted or denied; and (4) whether you have or were considering raising it in the appeal prior to the current information.

If you have a closed appeal in which there was a Pitchess motion, please don't contact us about it yet; we'll first be dealing with open appeals, and once we know more about what if any mechanism is being set up in Superior Court we'll address the question of closed appeals.


Update June 23, 2003: The San Francisco Superior Court will soon be appointing a special master to review the now- estimated 3,500 Pitchess cases. The master should begin to work by the end of July. The master will first work to narrow down the potential cases in which Pitchess materials might have made a difference. Those cases will then be reviewed to determine what documents should have been disclosed. In addition to the Performance Improvement Program (PIP) files which were not disclosed, it is possible that certain other files (probation and field trainig files) may also be included. Public Defender Jeff Adachi estimates that cases dating to 1997 will probably be included in the master's review.

We will continue to update you on developments.

 

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