Deputies Involved In 62,000 Criminal Cases Shown To Be Liars, Frauds, Domestic Abusers, And Sexual Predators

from the all-hail-the-Good-Guys dept

If you had evidence an opposing witness in a criminal trial was untrustworthy, you'd want to use it, right? Too bad says the local law enforcement union. And too bad says a California court. The issue at hand is the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department's "Brady" list. "Brady" is shorthand for exculpatory evidence and untrustworthy law enforcement officers called to provide testimony certainly falls under that heading.

After Sheriff Lee Baca resigned in disgrace following his department's implication in widespread jailhouse corruption and its tendency to hire some of the worst people possible to staff its jail, new sheriff Jim McDonnell wanted to make this list of questionable officers public. He wanted to hand it to prosecutors so they'd know which deputies to avoid if they wanted honest, untainted testimony. He didn't go so far as to offer the same list to defense attorneys, but it was one step further than any sheriff before him had taken.

The sheriff's union sued, claiming handing the Brady list to prosecutors violated state confidentiality laws. In July, the LA County Appeals Court agreed with the union. The case has been taken up by the California Supreme Court, but it won't be discussed or decided until next year. Meanwhile, the ~300 deputies whose names are on the Brady list may have been witnesses in a combined 62,000 cases since 2000. And still, nobody is allowed to access their disciplinary files.

The Los Angeles Times has obtained copies of the 2014 version of the list. (It does not say how it obtained these, so its presumably a leak.) In it are details of hundreds of acts of misconduct, all relating to "moral" issues which could conceivably be used to cast doubt on these deputies' credibility. The documents contain many more details, but this quick rundown by the Times scratches the surface of the secret Brady list. [h/t CJ Ciaramella]

One deputy on the list endangered the lives of fellow officers and an undercover informant when he warned a suspected drug dealer’s girlfriend that the dealer was being watched by police.

Another pepper-sprayed an elderly man in the face and then wrote a false report to justify arresting him.

A third pulled over a stranger and received oral sex from her in his patrol car.

The list also includes several deputies still with the department who were convicted of crimes — one for filing a false arrest report and another who was charged with domestic battery but pleaded no contest to a lesser offense. In other cases, prosecutors sharply criticized the deputies’ actions but declined to pursue criminal charges against them.

Also included: multiple allegations (some sustained) of domestic violence, forging judges' signatures, falsified reports, and sexual misconduct.

Accusations of dishonesty lead the way, composing 69% of all misconduct allegations. Dishonesty is exactly what you don't want from your prosecution witnesses, and a track record of dishonest behavior should be enough to make any testimony given suspect. Unfortunately, the documents are still officially secret, shielded from public access by California law and an appeals court decision.

But the misdeeds detailed in the document make you wonder why the LASD hasn't kicked many of these deputies to the curb. It's not just a problem for testimony in criminal cases. It's also a terrible business practice when you're in the business of serving the public. When your job is literally law enforcement, the lax internal enforcement of actual laws encourages further misconduct and abuse, and destroys your relationship with the communities you serve.


Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Dec 2017 @ 12:12pm

    If I were a defence lawyer, I would ask how the jury knows the officer isn't on the list

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Madd the Sane (profile), 13 Dec 2017 @ 12:16pm

    Police Union

    Can't we just disband police unions now?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Michelle, 13 Dec 2017 @ 12:16pm

    Statistics

    I wonder what the rate of "bad cops" compares to in the general populace. Might be informative to get a comparison. As in, are people that tend towards these behaviors drawn towards positions of power because of their ability to use that power maliciously? Or is it lower, and the "good cops" just turn a blind eye? Does that make them bad cops too?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      An Onymous Coward (profile), 13 Dec 2017 @ 1:15pm

      Re: Statistics

      > Or is it lower, and the "good cops" just turn a blind eye? Does that make them bad cops too?

      Yes, ignoring the behavior of bad cops makes the good cops bad. Since that behavior is routinely ignored almost without exception we can conclude that nearly our entire police force is bad and needs to be rooted out.

      Public awareness and outcry is the only reason any cop is ever prosecuted. This is why the unions want those lists kept secret -- they can't collect dues from ex-cops.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Paul, 14 Dec 2017 @ 7:42am

      Re: Statistics

      I've read in The Hacker Crackdown https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Hacker_Crackdown that 10% of the population will steal anything not nailed down and 10% will never steal anything ever. The battle is for the hearts and minds of the other 80%.

      The concern is that when wrongdoing by the worst 10% is ignored or brushed under the carpet, it not only leaves that 10% in place but it also sends a clear signal to the 80% of what kinds of behavior are acceptable, and even expected.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Dec 2017 @ 12:26pm

    Meanwhile, the ~300 deputies whose names are on the Brady list may have been witnesses in a combined 62,000 cases since 2000.

    Yup, just a few bad apples.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Daydream, 13 Dec 2017 @ 1:14pm

    If I may be cynical...

    But the misdeeds detailed in the document make you wonder why the LASD hasn't kicked many of these deputies to the curb. It's not just a problem for testimony in criminal cases. It's also a terrible business practice when you're in the business of serving the public.

    But the police aren't interested in serving the public; their purpose is to suppress citizens and dissuade them from seeking illegal means of redress when legal means fail.

    To put it another way, when net neutrality is gone, the police will be there to break up protests and prevent lynch mobs from enacting 'justice' against certain corporate executives.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Dec 2017 @ 1:17pm

    Dismissing problematic officers

    But the misdeeds detailed in the document make you wonder why the LASD hasn't kicked many of these deputies to the curb.

    Probably because it has a contract with the police union that prohibits that kind of disciplinary action. We've seen time and again how sworn officers convicted guilty of crimes that would lead to substantial incarceration if committed by a private citizen are instead given minimal punishments and allowed to return to work. In those cases where the police department tries to dismiss the convicted officer, the police union often gets the officer reinstated, usually with backpay. With that kind of environment, it's hardly surprising that LASD has not dismissed officers for the comparably less (though still very problematic) offenses described here.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 14 Dec 2017 @ 3:33am

      Re: Dismissing problematic officers

      Could a victim, or the family of a victim, of police violence take the police union to court if they could show the union kept the police officers in a job when their disciplinary record showed them unfit to be an officer?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        ralph_the_bus_driver (profile), 14 Dec 2017 @ 2:27pm

        Re: Re: Dismissing problematic officers

        The Sheriff yes, the union, no. The employer is responsible for the conduct of its employees. While the employer may always fire an employee, as government employees, it is a lot harder to fire police. The union doesn't hire the cops so they aren't responsible for them.

        I don't disagree with you, but the attitude is the police are allowed a more lenient performance than ordinary employees simply because of their job.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Roger Strong (profile), 13 Dec 2017 @ 1:22pm

    Deputies Involved In 62,000 Criminal Cases Shown To Be Liars, Frauds, Domestic Abusers, And Sexual Predators

    I shall complain to Congress!

    Oh. Wait....

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Uriel-238 (profile), 13 Dec 2017 @ 2:04pm

    This means we need to do the same thing we did regarding police shootings.

    For decades the FBI refused to submit data regarding deaths caused by law enforcement officers, so non-profits including some news agencies took over gathering that data.

    It seems we need independent agencies to start tracking officers who are allowed to continue functioning as law enforcement even after they have committed crimes.

    It'll also reveal how many officers not only continue to serve as police officers, but fail to do time for their crimes.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Dec 2017 @ 3:36pm

    Also in California, they let illegal "immigrants" loose, over and over.

    And block CBP from jails and courthouses, resulting in innocent people being assaulted and murdered.

    But of course Techdirt only sees the bad that wants to -- especially when drug sellers / addicts might get turned loose.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      An Onymous Coward (profile), 13 Dec 2017 @ 4:05pm

      Re: Also in California, they let illegal "immigrants" loose, over and over.

      Hi! Maybe you're new here, or maybe you're just super dense and testing the waters for the "but what about..." defense. Either way, you seem to have [shit]posted some entirely unrelated content. Giving you the benefit of the doubt, this was obviously unintentional and merely the result of being dropped on your head multiple times as an infant. Please do attempt to stay on topic in the future. Thanks!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Dec 2017 @ 7:12pm

    See recent Milke case

    The Milke case was in the Ninth Circuit, where California is located. That recent case should affect this one.




    http://www.azcourts.gov/Portals/0/OpinionFiles/Div1/2014/SA%2014-0108.pdf

    MILKE v. HON MROZ/STATE

    Debra Jean Milke petitions this court for special action review of the superior court’s denial of her motion to dismiss the capital charges against her. She alleges a retrial would violate the Double Jeopardy Clause of the Arizona Constitution because of the State’s longstanding breaches of its
    constitutional duty to disclose impeachment evidence.

    In this extraordinary case, we agree. The State committed egregious prosecutorial
    misconduct that severely prejudiced Milke’s defense, and nearly a quarter-century passed before the misconduct was fully brought to light.

    On this record and based on Arizona Supreme Court precedent, we conclude that
    retrial is not an effective remedy and the integrity of our system of justice demands application of the double jeopardy bar. We therefore exercise special action jurisdiction and grant relief by remanding with instructions to dismiss the charges against Milke with prejudice.

    Regardless of good or bad faith, a state’s failure to adhere to Brady/Giglio by willfully or inadvertently suppressing favorable evidence violates a defendant’s due process rights...

    After the Ninth Circuit set aside Milke’s convictions and sentences, the State initiated retrial proceedings. Milke moved to dismiss the charges against her, arguing that the intentional and egregious prosecutorial misconduct by the State identified by the Ninth Circuit triggers double jeopardy protection, barring retrial. After the trial court denied her motion and a motion for reconsideration, Milke petitioned this court for special action relief.

    After briefing and oral argument, this court issued an order accepting jurisdiction and staying the trial court proceedings. We now grant relief.

    ---------------------------------------------


    http://cdn.ca9.uscourts.gov/datastore/opinions/2013/03/ 14/07-99001%20web%20-%20corrected.pdf

    DEBRA JEAN MILKE,
    Petitioner-Appellant,
    v.
    CHARLES L. RYAN,*
    Respondent-Appellee.

    SUMMARY**
    Habeas Corpus/Death Penalty
    The panel reversed the district court’s denial of a 28 U.S.C. § 2254 habeas corpus petition challenging a
    conviction and capital sentence for murder, conspiracy to commit murder, child abuse and the kidnapping of her young son.

    Petitioner Milke’s conviction was based largely on the testimony of Police Detective Saldate, who allegedly obtained her confession. The panel held that the state remained unconstitutionally silent instead of disclosing information about Det. Saldate’s history of misconduct and accompanying
    court orders and disciplinary action.

    The panel held that the state court’s failure to comply with Brady v. Maryland... resulted in a decision by the state post-conviction court that was contrary to clearly established Supreme Court law, and that the state post-conviction court so misread the evidence documenting the state’s Brady violations that its decision was based on an unreasonable determination of the facts...

    Reviewing the Brady claim on the merits, the panel first held that evidence in Det. Saldate’s personnel file, documenting the detective’s lack of compunction about lying during the course of his official activities, was favorable to Milke’s defense and likely would have affected the sentence.

    The panel next held that state knew of the evidence in the personnel file and had an obligation to produce the documents, and that there is a reasonable probability that disclosure of the evidence would have led to a different result.

    The panel remanded with instructions that the district court grant a conditional writ of habeas corpus setting aside the conviction and sentence. The panel also ordered the district court to order the state to provide Milke’s counsel with Det. Saldate’s police personnel records covering all of his years of service.

    The panel further ordered that, after the state has turned over the records, it shall provide a statement under oath certifying that all records have been disclosed and none have been omitted, lost or destroyed, otherwise the district court shall hold an evidentiary hearing to determine whether and why any records have not been produced.

    Afterwards, the district court shall order Milke released unless the state decides to retry her. The panel retained jurisdiction over any appeal arising from this remand.

    Finally, the panel ordered the clerk of this court to send copies of this opinion to the U.S. Attorney for the District of Arizona and to the Assistant U.S. Attorney General of the Civil Rights Division, for possible investigation into whether Det. Saldate’s conduct, and that of his supervisors and other
    state and local officials, amounts to a pattern of violating the federally protected rights of Arizona residents.

    Chief Judge Kozinski concurred to comment on this “troubling case.” He would reverse the district court’s finding that Milke knowingly waived her Miranda rights because any confession was extracted illegally. He would set aside the conviction on the separate ground that it relied on an illegally-obtained confession that probably never occurred, and bar use of the so-called confession during any retrial.
    ...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Dec 2017 @ 2:49am

    surely the real sickener here is that the courts actually stand on the side of the deputies here, keeping public servants conduct secret from the public! they are, in my opinion, even worse than those perpetrating the 'crimes' in the first place! how the hell can anyone actually have even the least bit of confidence in what 'law enforcement' is doing when those representing it are abusing it every second, then get carte blanche to continue doing so by ridiculous court decisions?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    GEMont, 14 Dec 2017 @ 9:56am

    The End of Democracy in America

    "It's also a terrible business practice when you're in the business of serving the public."

    Well then, there's the source of your confusion on this matter.

    The Police have not been in the business of serving the public for many years now and the laws they now enforce were designed specifically by the 1% to legalize the wholesale robbery of the public's private assets.

    Were you to admit that the Police now primarily serve the 1% as their enforcement "goons" and like mercenaries everywhere, secondarily serve themselves whenever opportunity arises, none of their actions would appear to be unusual in the slightest.

    In a Fascist Police state, this is absolutely normal behavior for public-exploitive Law Enforcement.

    However, since Americans refuse to see what is right in front of their faces, you might as well get used to this behavior, because it is definitely not going to fix itself and will in fact simply get worse as more new laws are put in place to create even more legalized criminal opportunities for the police and their new masters.

    FOSTA comes to mind immediately.

    After all, since the 1% possess 90% of the nation's wealth, they feel that it is they who need 90% of the protection afforded by laws and police.

    That's only fair right.

    Or is that Far Right:)

    ---

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    orbitalinsertion (profile), 14 Dec 2017 @ 1:11pm

    Wahaha noooo. Discrediting witnesses by dragging out stupid little ancient things is for the prosecution. The defense shall not be allowed to show the discredit of witnesses for the prosecution with actual facts about egregious and ongoing behaviors of LEOs who, one might add, would probably be tazed and beaten, arrested, and serving time (if they survived), by said LEOs, if they were not LEOs themselves.

    They are like a bad mob movie.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Dec 2017 @ 5:27pm

    Every time you deal with anyone in the government at any capacity you are dealing with a BIG QUESTION MARK.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Use markdown for basic formatting. HTML is no longer supported.
  Save me a cookie
Follow Techdirt
Techdirt Gear
Show Now: Takedown
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads

Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.