Following Young v. Superior Court (2022) 79 Cal.App.5th 138, the Court of Appeal held that the minor established a plausible justification for discovery under Penal Code section 745(d) where, among other things, defense counsel provided statistical data specific to the Marin County juvenile justice system about vastly higher rates of referrals, wardship, and institutional placement for Latinos compared to white youth; attested based on information from two local high school students and police records that teens trespassing on school athletic facilities (one of the offenses in this case) are often let go with just a warning; and showed that the arresting officer in a subsequent shoplifting case made a comment suggesting the officer may have assumed the minor was in a gang. The Court of Appeal therefore reversed the denial of the minor’s discovery motion and remanded for the juvenile court to determine the scope of that discovery.
After appellant filed a request for disclosure of police personnel records under Pitchess v. Superior Court (1974) 11 Cal.3d 531, the trial court erred in two respects: (1) it failed to obtain sworn testimony from the custodian of records explaining what documents in the personnel files were withheld and why they were deemed nonresponsive; and (2) the court’s order to disclose some information was not communicated to the parties.
The Court of Appeal fully reversed the judgment, finding the trial court prejudicially erred in denying a new trial motion based on the failure of the prosecutor to disclose – per Brady – information about the credibility (or lack thereof) of a police officer who was the primary witness of the state. The Court of Appeal sided with appellant, rejecting the argument that the state did not withhold evidence and that the evidence in question was not material.
The in camera Pitchess hearing, which the trial court conducted, did not conform with prescribed procedures. From the limited transcript of the in camera proceedings, the Court of Appeal could not tell whether the custodian of records brought all potentially responsive documents, and whether the juvenile court reviewed the potentially responsive documents or merely a summary. For that reason, the Court conditionally reversed the judgment of conviction.