Pitchess Motion: What to Do If the Police Lied On Your Arrest Report or in Court
You can fight if a Cop lied on your arrest report, in your case or in court!
There is a process called a Pitchess Motion wherein in a Defendant about whom the police lied, in an arrest report, criminal report or in testimony, can request that the police agency turn over all other complaints that people have made about the officer lying (or falsifying reports, or excessive force, or planting evidence).
A Pitchess Motion states that what the officer(s) have put into their reports is false and it may suggest an alternative scenario. The Court then rules on whether there is a discrepancy. If there is, the Court then has an in camera (private) review of the officer’s complaint file. If there are any complaints that show lying or falsifying police reports they are turned over to the defense counsel who can then investigate the complaints and call the complainants as witnesses who will testify against the officer.
The other tool to obtain impeachment evidence as well as exculpatory evidence is a request for Brady Evidence. It all comes out of a fairly old case, that remarkably remains mostly intact, called Brady v. Maryland. Police personnel files that contain Brady information can only be accessed by Pitchess motion.
Brady establishes that the Prosecution has a non-delegable duty to discover and disclose exculpatory and impeachment evidence. The Prosecution has to turn over all evidence favorable to an accused, that is material to either guilt or punishment. Material evidence is that evidence that shows a reasonable probability that, if disclosed to the Defense, it would have resulted in a different decision by the Trial Court. US v. Bagley. The Prosecution’s duty is ongoing pre-trial, during trial and even after trial. US v. Agurs.
Impeachment evidence includes the following:
— Evidence showing inept or biased police investigation, including concealing evidence about prosecution witnesses. Kyle v. Whitley.
— Evidence showing witnesses have a readiness to lie based on evidence of their ‘morally lax character’, even if it isn’t charged as a crime. People v. Mickle.
— The identity of all percipient witnesses, even those the prosecution does not intend to call at trial. US v Cadet.
— Evidence of all inducements for State’s witnesses to testify. Giglio v. US.
Additionally, the Prosecutor cannot avoid their responsibility by claiming they didn’t know about the information.
There is no good faith excuse. The prosecutor has a duty to investigate whether Brady evidence exists. Kyles v. Whitley.
The prosecutor cannot avoid his duty because the defendant didn’t make a specific request. US v. Agurs.
If you have had these sort of these problems with a cop, or you have any question at all, please call me at 213-479-5322 or fill out the easy form at right.