LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department cannot reveal to prosecutors the names of 300 problem deputies who are potential witnesses in pending criminal cases, a California appeals court ruled Tuesday.
The Sheriff’s Department has created a list of 300 deputies with records of theft, domestic violence and use of excessive force, among other infractions. But the Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs opposed the department’s plan to release the names to prosecutors in pending criminal cases.
Because the deputies would have issues of credibility if subpoenaed, prosecutors would have to reveal to criminal defense lawyers that any deputy with an infraction could testify in court, the ACLU said after filing a friend of the court brief in March.
In November 2016, the deputies union petitioned to keep the names of the deputies on the list secret, saying disclosure would violate their privacy rights.
A trial court in Los Angeles sided with the union and issued an injunction barring disclosure of the names except for deputies who might be called to testify in criminal proceedings.
On Tuesday, Division Eight of the Second Appellate District found that the trial court had “improperly limited the scope of its injunction.”
“The trial court is ordered to strike from the injunction any language that allows real parties or any of them to disclose the identity of any individual deputy on the LASD’s Brady list to any individual or entity outside the LASD, even if the deputy is a witness in a pending criminal prosecution,” Appellate Judge Douglas Sortino wrote.
Judge Tricia Bigelow concurred; Judge Elizabeth Grimes concurred and dissented.
“I concur in the majority opinion with one significant exception,” Grimes wrote. “I cannot accept the majority’s principal conclusion: that when the personnel records of a peace officer, who is a potential witness in a pending criminal prosecution, contain sustained allegations of misconduct, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (Department) cannot disclose that fact to the prosecutor.”
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