Court Denies Requests for Brady Advice

September 19, 2006, by Meyers Nave

In an article entitled "Court nixes requests for Brady advice," by Julie O'Shea, Recorder Staff Writer, dated September 6, 2006, she writes that Santa Clara County Judge James Emerson issued a standing order last week banning deputies in that office from filing Brady motions with the court. The Judge stated that, "[t]he sole responsibility under law for collection and disclosure of Brady material lies with the People." Under Brady, prosecutors are required to turn over to the defense, evidence that could be exculpatory. That can often include information about misconduct claims filed against the arresting or investigating officers.

Over the past four years, county prosecutors have filed motions asking the court to decide whether the District Attorney was required to release "possible Brady" discovery including police personnel files that could be used for impeachment purposes to the defense. Apparently, this began to irritate some judges who complained that they were being forced to do the District Attorney's job.

The San Jose City Attorney's Office previously warned that it would take "proactive measures to prevent needless embarrassment, harassment, and unwarranted invasions of privacy"  of its law enforcement officers. City Attorney J. Richard "Rick: Doyle expressed disappointment Wednesday. He pointed out that Judge Emerson stated in his order that "in extraordinary cases" discovery issues can be addressed to the supervising judge of the criminal department --in writing. "There is going to be a lot of extraordinary cases," Doyle noted. "The court is still going to have to address" this issue.

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