In an internal statement to members of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, Sheriff Jim McDonnell outlined that the Department would seek further legal clarity on its obligations to conform to the U.S. Supreme Court’s Brady decision. Great effort has been given to balance the privacy protection of information contained in a peace officer’s personnel file, as mandated by state law, with the obligations to disclose information required by the high court.
 
The original United States Supreme Court ruling from 1963, known as “Brady vs Maryland,” requires prosecutors in a criminal case to disclose exculpatory evidence to the defense. Sheriff McDonnell emphasized that the Brady decision and subsequent litigation and legal opinions have failed to offer clarity on exactly how to reconcile the conflict between state law which states that peace officer personnel files are confidential and shall not be disclosed in any criminal or civil proceeding except by court order, and the duty of the Department to disclose information under Brady.

Sheriff McDonnell stated, “This is about respecting the rights of peace officers, and preserving the integrity of criminal cases.  The legal process, is just that, part of a process where the courts will make a number of determinations that will guide how we move forward.”

In his recorded statement, Sheriff McDonnell further emphasized that the goal of this court review was to establish legal clarity while ensuring the appropriate processes would be followed to comply with peace officers’ rights. “There is no other objective,” said Sheriff McDonnell, “other than to seek clarity and guidance from the courts on how to comply with our legal responsibilities under the Brady Decision.”

Forwarded By:
Joana Warren, Deputy
Sheriff’s Information Bureau – Newsroom
Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department
Hall of Justice - First floor  
211 W. Temple St, Los Angeles, CA 90012
213-229-1850

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Jim McDonnell, Sheriff
Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department