California Supreme Court Recognizes Right to Bring Pitchess Motions Before Preliminary Hearings
In an opinion filed July 27, 2010, the California Supreme Court held that a criminal defendant has the right to bring a Pitchess motion before the preliminary hearing in the defendant's case. Pitchess motions are brought by criminal defendants to discover prior citizen complaints in peace officer personnel files alleging misconduct by peace officers that may be relevant to a defense. In the case, Galindo v. Superior Court, S170550, the Supreme Court disagreed with the trial court in the matter, which had held that Pitchess discovery is not normally available before a preliminary hearing because such discovery is relevant only to issues at trial, where the prosecution has to prove a defendant's guilt.
The Galindo opinion is important to law enforcement agencies and their efforts to protect the confidentiality of peace officer personnel files because it eliminates a strong procedural defense to Pitchess motions brought before a preliminary hearing has occurred.ShareThis