Category Archives: Deputy Joshua Wang

San Mateo County Sheriff Video How not to Arrest a Pedestrian.

sheriffsoffice.

By Michael G. Stogner

This Video should be used Nationwide to all Law Enforcement Agencies. The Unarmed Pedestrian was not drunk, had no Drugs in his system and had committed no crime when the SMCSO Deputy first noticed him and made a U turn.

Sheriff’s Office has No Plan on how to detain a large Black man for jaywalking.

Before you start the video notice the Five names listed. CSO Joesph Gonzales not listed. You’ll notice at the 7:18 mark there are SIX SMC Sheriff Employees involved including CSO using O.C. Spray.

Warning to viewer, this video is of the Homicide of Chinedu V. Okobi by SIX Sheriff Employees October 3, 2018 in the middle of the afternoon.

Government Video made public March 1, 2019

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Filed under #Blacklivesmatter, #SanMateoCounty, #SanMateoCountyNews, #SMCJUSTICE, 911, AMR, Attorney Generals Office, AXON, Board of Supervisors, Brady List, Carole Groom, Charles Stone, Chief Deputy District Attorney Al Serrato, Chinedu Okobi, Chris Hunter, Citizen Journalist, Citizens Oversight Committee, City of Millbrae, Community Service Officer Joseph Gonzales, Criminal Enforcement Task Force, D.J. Wozniak, Dave Canepa, Dave Pine, David Burruto, David Silberman, Deputy Bryan Watt, Deputy Coroner Heather Diaz, Deputy John DeMartini, Deputy Joshua Wang, DOJ, Don Horsley, Excessive & Unnecessary Use of Force, Facebook, Government Hiding the Obvious, Grand Jury, Jamie Draper, John Beiers, John Burris, John Warren, Jordan Boyd, Marshall Wilson, Maureen Okobi, Michael G. Stogner, Michelle Durand, Mike Callagy, NAACP, Outrageous Government Conduct, Prosecutorial Misconduct, R.E.A.C.T. Task Force, Rick Decker, San Mateo County Grand Jury, San Mateo County News, San Mateo County Sheriff Office, Sean Gallagher, Selective Prosecution, Sgt. Bob Pronske, Sheriff Carlos G. Bolanos, SMCDA Inspector Gregory Giguiere 80215, SMCSO PIO Rosemerry Blankswade, SMCSO Sergeant Jacob Trickett, SMCSO Sgt. Irfan Zaidi, SMCSO Sgt. Jason Peardon, SMCSO Sgt. Weidner, Steve Wagstaffe, Those Who Matter, Victim's Advocate, Warren Slocum

Chinedu Okobi In-Custody Homicide. SMCDA Inspector Gregory Giguiere got it right. 6 Involved Parties

By Michael G. Stogner

San Mateo County Board of Supervisors met in Closed Session yesterday Jan. 14, 2020 to discuss settling the Maureen Okobi vs. San Mateo County and 5 of its 6 Employees case.

Maureen Okobi is the mother Chinedu Okobi who was legally walking down the sidewalk on the Millbrae side of El Camino Real at 1:00PM on Wednesday October 3, 2018. After interacting with SIX San Mateo County Sheriff Employees for 9:10 he was completely Unresponsive. When a monitor was put on him 10 minutes later it was Flatlined. At San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office closed to the public Press Conference on March 1, 2019 Steve Wagstaffe was asked by KQED Reporter Julie Small “What was the Manner of Death?” At that point he confirmed what SMCCO Deputy Coroner Heather Diaz reported in December 2018. Chinedu Okobi’s death was ruled a Homicide.

The only San Mateo County District Attorney Employee to Include SMCSO Employee civilian CSO Joseph Gonzales was SMCDA Inspector Gregory Giguiere 80215

October 3, 2018 2:50PM

San Mateo County Sheriff Sgt. Trickett was the Incident Commander at the scene. He identified the “Involved Parties.”

Involved Parties:

Sergeant David Weidner

Deputy Joshua Wang

Deputy Alyssa Lorenzatti

Deputy John Demartini

Deputy Bryan Watt

Community Service Officer (CSO) Joseph Gonzales

So the question is Who & How many San Mateo County Employees/Elected Officials had knowledge and were involved in the False Narrative of FIVE SMCSO INVOLVED PARTIES.

It’s pretty simple if you are willing to Falsify Police Reports, and produce 3 False Sheriff News Releases (Sheriff Carlos Bolanos & PIO Rosemary Blankswade) Why should the residents of San Mateo County believe anything you say or report?

Video prepared and provided by SMCDA on March 1, 2019

7:21 mark clearly shows CSO Joseph Gonzales spraying O.C. that equals Involved.

Get involved San Mateo County Residents, you are responsible for your elected officials behavior.

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Filed under #Blacklivesmatter, #SanMateoCountyNews, #SMCJUSTICE, 911, Attorney Generals Office, AXON, Bill Silverfarb, Board of Supervisors, Carole Groom, Charles Stone, Chinedu Okobi, Chris Hunter, Citizen Journalist, Citizens Oversight Committee, Community Service Officer Joseph Gonzales, Criminal Enforcement Task Force, CSO Joseph Gonzales, D.J. Wozniak, Dave Canepa, Dave Pine, David Burruto, David Silberman, DDA Al Serato, Deputy Alyssa Lorenzatti, Deputy Bryan Watt, Deputy Coroner Heather Diaz, Deputy John DeMartini, Deputy Joshua Wang, DOJ, Don Horsley, Government Hiding the Obvious, Grand Jury, Jamie Draper, John Beiers, John Burris, John Warren, Jordan Boyd, Kevin Mullins, Mark Simon, Marshall Wilson, Maureen Okobi, Michael G. Stogner, Michelle Durand, Millbrae City Manager Tom Williams, NAACP, Outrageous Government Conduct, Prosecutorial Misconduct, R.E.A.C.T. Task Force, Rick Decker, RICO, San Mateo County District Attorney Office, San Mateo County Grand Jury, San Mateo County Manager, San Mateo County News, San Mateo County Sheriff Office, Sean Gallagher, Senator Jerry Hill, Sergeant David Weidner, Sgt. Bob Pronske, Sheriff Carlos G. Bolanos, Sheriff's Public Information Officer, Silicon Valley, SMCDA Inspector Gregory Giguiere 80215, SMCSO PIO Rosemerry Blankswade, SMCSO Sergeant Jacob Trickett, SMCSO Sgt. Irfan Zaidi, SMCSO Sgt. Weidner, Steve Wagstaffe, Those Who Matter, Tony Serra, Uncategorized, Victim's Advocate, Warren Slocum, Whistleblowers

San Mateo County News.com Names Deputy Coroner Heather Diaz Employee of the Year.

By Sarah Navratil & Michael G. Stogner

December 27, 2018 and signed off on December 31, 2018, Became public on March 1, 2019 after the San Mateo County District Attorney made it available on their website. District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe held a Private Press Conference where he gave a 26 minute presentation of the Investigation of the In-Custody Homicide of Chinedu Okobi. HOMICIDE was never mentioned.

We at San Mateo County News.com can just imagine the pressure she must have felt for simply doing the job she was hired to do. The amount of other SMC Employees who had knowledge of her Homicide ruling and Omitted that word is shocking.

Congratulations Heather Diaz.

San Mateo County Deputy Coroner Heather Diaz # 21 stated: “Upon arrival of Paramedics and Fire Personnel Chinedu Okobi was assessed and found to be unresponsive.”

“As the death was the result of multiple measures to subdue Chinedu Okobi by law enforcement, and based on the information contained in the Coroner’s Investigation Report, Toxicology Report, medical records, and multiple videos, 

“I have determined the manner of death to be homicide.”

March 1, 2019 SMCDA’s Work Product made public.

You will notice the District Attorney and Sheriff’s Office only names five names. There were SIX Everybody knows that.

The only San Mateo County District Attorney Employee to Include civilian CSO Joseph Gonzales was SMCDA Inspector Gregory Giguiere 80215

October 3, 2018 2:50PM

San Mateo County Sheriff Sgt. Trickett was the Incident Commander at the scene. He identified the “Involved Parties.”

Involved Parties:

Sergeant David Weidner

Deputy Joshua Wang

Deputy Alyssa Lorenzatti

Deputy John Demartini

Deputy Bryan Watt

Community Service Officer (CSO) Joseph Gonzales

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Filed under #Blacklivesmatter, #SanMateoCountyNews, AXON, Bill Silverfarb, Board of Supervisors, Brady List, California State Bar, Carole Groom, Chief Deputy District Attorney Al Serrato, Chinedu Okobi, Chris Hunter, Citizen Journalist, Citizens Oversight Committee, City of Millbrae, Community Service Officer Joseph Gonzales, CSO Joseph Gonzales, D.J. Wozniak, Dave Canepa, Dave Pine, David Burruto, David Silberman, DDA Albert Serrato, Deputy Alyssa Lorenzatti, Deputy Bryan Watt, Deputy Coroner Heather Diaz, Deputy John DeMartini, Deputy Joshua Wang, DOJ, Don Horsley, Excessive & Unnecessary Use of Force, Jamie Draper, John Beiers, John Warren, Jordan Boyd, Kevin Mullins, Marshall Wilson, Michael G. Stogner, Mike Callagy, Prosecutorial Misconduct, Rick Decker, Sean Gallagher, Senator Jerry Hill, Sgt. Bob Pronske, Sheriff Carlos G. Bolanos, SMC, SMCSO PIO Rosemerry Blankswade, SMCSO Sgt. Irfan Zaidi, SMCSO Sgt. Jason Peardon, SMCSO Sgt. Weidner, Steve Wagstaffe, Those Who Matter, Victim's Advocate, Warren Slocum

SMCDA Inspectors Jamie Draper and John Warren should be on the Brady List.

By Michael G. Stogner

A reasonable person would expect the San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office Lead Investigator and his boss to provide Honest & Accurate Information at all times. In the Chinedu Okobi In-Custody Homicide Investigation involving SIX Sheriff Employees that is not the case.

Inspector Jamie Draper identifies CSO Joseph Gonzales as a Witness not a Participant. Why? He’s the one spraying the O.C. spray in the video.

The statement below was provided (Unknown date) by SMCDA Inspector Jamie Draper and approved by SMCDA John Warren.

OMMISSION: Homicide

December 31, 2018 Deputy Coroner Heather Diaz #21 

“I have determined the manner of death to be Homicide.”

CORONERS REPORT SUMMARY

On December 31, 2018 I received the Coroner’s Office Report, prepared by Coroner’s Investigator Heather Diaz. The report included redacted sections related to Decedent Chinedu Okobi’s medical treatment on October 3, 2018 as well as redacted sections related to his previous medical and mental treatments pursuant to 56.10 of the California Civil Code. The “Conclusion Report” by Coroner’s Investigator Diaz included a summary of the attempts by San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office personnel to detain Decedent Okobi and noted Okobi was found be “unresponsive” upon the arrival of paramedics and fire personnel on the scene. It should be noted that this information is contrary to what was scene upon review of the Mobile Audio Video (MAV) footage at the scene and from the statements provided by fire department paramedics who stated they had determined Decedent Okobi had a pulse and was breathing when they arrived on scene to begin treatment.

  1. prepared by Coroner’s Investigator Heather Diaz. Heather Diaz is Deputy Coroner.
  2. The “Conclusion Report” by Coroner’s Investigator Diaz. Heather Diaz is Deputy Coroner.
  3. “unresponsive” upon the arrival of paramedics and fire personnel on the scene. It should be noted that this information is contrary to what was scene upon review of the Mobile Audio Video (MAV) footage at the scene. The video provided to the public by District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe CONFIRMS Deputy Coroner Heather Diaz’s statement.
  4. and from the statements provided by fire department paramedics who stated they had determined Decedent Okobi had a pulse and was breathing when they arrived on scene to begin treatment. Jamie Draper should identify the Fire Department Paramedics by name and what time on the video did that take place, there are NO CAPTIONS and the video DOES NOT support his statement.

On March 1, 2019 San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe held a private Press Conference announcing his decision not to charge the Five Sheriff Employees with any criminal charges. During his 26 minute presentation he Omitted the SIXTH Sheriff Employee CSO Joseph Gonzales and Omitted the word Homicide. That only popped out at the 47:40 mark when KQED Reporter Julie Small asked what was the manner of Death?

That doesn’t seem very Honest does it?

Steve Wagstaffe also stated:“From that point on” approaching the 9 minute mark on the video.” “The Sheriff Office and our review of their conduct is done. Sheriff Office turned him over to AMR.”

The video that Mr. Wagstaffe provided the public does NOT SUPPORT that statement, it shows AMR people at 17:54 mark. not approaching the 9 minute mark. That is a 9 minute difference, not a couple of seconds.

Video By SMC Government

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Filed under #Blacklivesmatter, #SanMateoCountyNews, AMR, Attorney Generals Office, AXON, Board of Supervisors, Body Camera Video, Carlos G. Bolanos, Carole Groom, Chinedu Okobi, Citizen Journalist, Citizens Oversight Committee, City of Millbrae, CSO Joseph Gonzales, D.J. Wozniak, Dave Canepa, Dave Pine, David Burruto, David Silberman, DDA Albert Serrato, Deputy Alyssa Lorenzatti, Deputy Bryan Watt, Deputy John DeMartini, Deputy Joshua Wang, DOJ, Don Horsley, Evidence Tampering, Grand Jury, Jamie Draper, John Beiers, John Warren, Michael G. Stogner, Mike Callagy, Millbrae City Manager Tom Williams, Organized Crime, Prosecutorial Misconduct, Rick Decker, San Mateo County District Attorney Office, San Mateo County Firefighters, San Mateo County Manager, San Mateo County Sheriff Office, Sheriff Carlos G. Bolanos, SMC, SMCSO Det. Rosemerry Blankswade, SMCSO Sgt. Irfan Zaidi, SMCSO Sgt. Weidner, Steve Wagstaffe, Those Who Matter, Victim's Advocate, Warren Slocum, Whistleblowers

San Mateo County Supervisor Don Horsley opposes Citizen Oversight Committee. I’m not surprised.

By Michael G. Stogner

Sup_Don_Horsley_portrait

 

The reason I said I’m not surprised is Don Horsley is dedicated to supporting Sheriff Carlos G. Bolanos the employer of his son. Some readers might recall that I am the citizen that saved San Mateo County Tax Payers at least $250,000 when I encouraged Supervisor Don Horsley to get back on track and keep his political campaign promise that he reneged on which was to not accept the Supervisor salary if elected. The reason I was so interested in it was he said it several times sitting next to me when we both were campaigning for Supervisor.

When asked by Bay City News whether they supported a new citizens’ oversight body, only one of five of the county supervisors, former Sheriff Don Horsley, responded to say that he unequivocally opposed the idea. Why did the other Supervisors refuse to answer the question?

“I just don’t think that having an oversight body adds anything other than more conflict and I don’t think it would have solved anything” in Chinedu Okobi’s case, Horsley said. How would Supervisor Horsley know?

October 3, 2018 News Release: Below is a list of the names of the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office Personnel who were involved in the critical incident on Wednesday, October 3rd, 2018. Deputy John DeMartini, Deputy Alyssa Lorenzatti, Deputy Joshua Wang, Deputy Bryan Watt, Sergeant Weidner. OMITTED from this list is the SIXTH Employee CSO Joseph Gonzales, Why?

Supervisor Don Horsley is unconcerned with Dishonest behavior by the Sheriff.

One thing Supervisor Don Horsley refuses to address is why did Sheriff Carlos G. Bolanos produce this False statement on October 3, 2018. “The deputy exited his vehicle to contact the suspect and the suspect immediately assaulted the deputy.”

This subject was never mentioned over the radio, on the video, or in any reports. Where did Sheriff Carlos G. Bolanos get this FALSE INFORMATION and why did he approve it and allow it to remain on the County’s website for 5 months until I asked Steve Wagstaffe about it at his March 1, 2019 Press Conference. He told me “You’ll have to ask the Sheriff Bolanos.” I have and he refuses to respond.

Horsley said that he thinks that the sheriff’s office has been transparent through the investigation and was unconcerned that it took five months for the inaccurate information to be corrected. It was not inaccurate information it was FALSE INFORMATION approved by Sheriff Carlos G. Bolanos, It was a LIE.

“I think it was good of them to correct the statement,” he said.

The Sheriff’s Office did not correct the statement they simply removed it from the Website and produced another false statement dated March 1, 2019

Horsley said that in addition to the use of force policy changes, the sheriff’s office has added implicit bias training and the county has expanded its mental health outreach.

“It’s understandable why the sheriff’s deputy thought they had to stop him,” Horsley said. 

Stopping a person is one thing Killing a person and offering NO CPR for almost 10 minutes is something entirely different.

Chinedu Okobi was killed while In-Custody by SIX NOT FIVE San Mateo County Sheriff Employees.

San Mateo County Coroner’s Office ruled Chinedu Okobi’s death a Homicide.

San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe at his March 1, 2019 Press Conference confirmed it was a Homicide. He said “The Coroner of this County Labeled it a Homicide.” He went on to say Homicide occurring during interaction with that individual.” That means the SIX Sheriff Employees.

Supervisor Don Horsley knows all of this information and he is Unconcerned and Uninterested.

The March 1, 2019 Lie by San Mateo County Government was Chinedu Okobi died after he was turned over to the Medics and they had him for Several Minutes, Both Sheriff Carlos G, Bolanos and Steve Wagstaffe are promoting that Lie.

I have asked Sheriff Carlos G. Bolanos to identify the MEDICS, He has refused.

SMCSO Press Release #2 Okobi Oct. 3, 2018

 

 

SMCSO Press Release Okobi Oct.3. 2018

SMCSO Press Release pg.1 Okobi March 1, 2019

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Filed under #Blacklivesmatter, #SanMateoCountyNews, #SMCJUSTICE, AXON, Board of Supervisors, Body Camera Video, Carole Groom, Charles Stone, Chinedu Okobi, Chris Hunter, Citizen Journalist, Citizens Oversight Committee, City of Millbrae, Community Service Officer Joseph Gonzales, CSO Joseph Gonzales, D.J. Wozniak, Dave Canepa, Dave Pine, Deputy Alyssa Lorenzatti, Deputy Bryan Watt, Deputy John DeMartini, Deputy Joshua Wang, Don Horsley, John Beiers, John Burris, Jordan Boyd, Judicial Misconduct, Michael G. Stogner, Mike Callagy, NAACP, Prosecutorial Misconduct, Rick Decker, San Mateo County District Attorney Office, San Mateo County News, San Mateo County Sheriff Office, San Mateo County Supervisors, Sergeant David Weidner, Sheriff Carlos G. Bolanos, SMCSO Det. Rosemerry Blankswade, SMCSO Sgt. Weidner, Those Who Matter, Victim's Advocate

Chinedu Okobi SMC Sheriff In-Custody Death Lawsuit filed. Key Defendant not included, Why?

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Chinedu Valentine Okobi

Attorney John Burris filed a lawsuit Friday May 31, 2019 representing Maureen Okobi mother of Chinedu V. Okobi who died in Millbrae, October 3, 2018 In-Custody of SIX San Mateo County Sheriff Employees. Four Deputies, one Sergeant and one Civilian. The Civilian CSO Joseph Gonzales was very involved in the physical take down of Chinedu Okobi and can be clearly seen in the District Attorney’s video at the 7:18 mark dispensing O.C. Spray. You will also notice on the Government’s Video they don’t mention CSO Joseph Gonzales either. So he was not investigated period, Why? The D.A.’s Office treated him as a Witness.

Lawsuit 

District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe’s Video

March 1, 2019 Steve Wagstaffe held a private Press Conference for select media, public not welcome. At around 8 minutes into the presentation he stated the Cause of Death by the pathologist to be “Cardiac Arrest”. Reporter Julie Small of KQED asked about 40 minutes later “Do you know the manor of death?” Wagstaffe responded “The Coroner of this County labeled it Homicide.” Why didn’t he say that at the beginning? He went on to say “Homicide occurring during Interaction with that Individual.” That means with the Six Employees.

KQED reported that Dr. Rogers determined the cause of Death to be Homicide. I reported that Deputy Coroner Heather Diaz #21 determined cause of Death to be Homicide.

By Michael G. Stogner

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SMC Sheriff Sgt. Irfan Zaidi Qualifies as a Brady Officer. Is He on the List? Who controls the list? Is there even a List?

The law enforcement profession requires integrity and trust and an officer who lies violates that trust and tarnishes the integrity of the profession.

October 3, 2018 at 1:00 PM Millbrae, California, Chinedu Okoki a 36 year old man was walking down the sidewalk on El Camino Real. Within 10 minutes he was Tasered 7 times, sprayed in the face with O.C. spray as six San Mateo County Sheriff Employees were on top of him. He was completely limp, unconscious, and never made a sound again. He died there on the spot in the Custody of the Sheriff’s Office.

San Mateo County Sheriff Sergeant Zaidi was not one of the Six Sheriff Employees involved in the In-Custody Death of Chinedu Okobi. Nineteen days later, On October 22, 2018 he filed an Official Report with the District Attorney’s Office making knowingly false statements.

” I directed Deputy Lorenzatti to remove the metal handcuffs from the suspect which she did, and the suspect was placed on his back. The Fire Department and AMR promptly began CPR.”

District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe on March 1, 2019 provided a video that he and his Team produced for the public it can be found on his website. The placing Chinedu Okobi on his back and CPR starts at the 18:50 mark. The video shows Deputy Lorenzatti did Not remove the handcuffs.

SMCSO Deputy Lorenzatti made an official statement on 10/04/2018 3:50 PM. to Inspector Eric Suzuki.

“They were like, well let’s get him on his back and start CPR, So then I, you know helped em, bring him to his back.

Question? “Okay and were his Handcuffs off at that point?”

Answer: No they were still on.

Eng. #37 Mazza Statement: “When decedent was lifted onto the gurney, a police officer cadet or trainee removed the Handcuffs from the decedents wrists.”

AMR #94 Retanubun Statement: “They put the decedent on to a “Mega Mover” when noticed the decedent still had handcuffs on.” “Saw police cadet nearby who assisted them with the removal of the Handcuffs.”

AMR #37 Uhland: “So they laid the decedent on his back with the Handcuffs still on his wrists.”

AMR #94 Pham: “Decedent was on his back with Handcuffs on when he arrived.”

AMR #37 Holman: “When they rolled the decedent over to remove the Handcuffs, she noticed several scrapes on his hands and a few small abrasion on his back.” “She was unsure if the injuries were there prior or if caused by the CPR application.”

According to Wagstaffe’ Video, Chinedu Okobi was placed on his back at 18:26 mark.

CPR starts at 18:50 mark with Handcuffs On and Hands behind his back.

Handcuffs Removed at 28:47 mark after almost 10 minutes of Chest Compressions.

What caused Sheriff Sgt. Zaidi to file this Bizarre False Official Statement?

District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe’s Video and Data made public March 1, 2019

LATIMES Article June 6, 2019

Note: 300 Deputies on the list. Sheriff Alex Villanueva, has called the Brady list a “fake list” and says it was the result of corrupt investigations designed to retaliate against certain deputies.

Should deputies’ misconduct be disclosed to D.A.?

Justices seem split on ruling that bars sheriff from giving officers’ names to prosecutors.
By Maura Dolan and Maya Lau
The California Supreme Court appeared divided Wednesday over a ruling that barred the Los Angeles County sheriff from giving prosecutors the names of deputies who have committed misconduct.
During a hearing, the state high court weighed an appeal of a decision that prohibited the sheriff from giving the district attorney the names of deputies with a history of bad behavior, including lying, taking bribes, tampering with evidence, using unreasonable force or engaging in domestic violence.
By law, prosecutors are required to disclose to defendants exculpatory evidence, including information that could diminish the credibility of police officers who worked on a case.
Several justices suggested Wednesday that prosecutors need the information to fulfill their constitutional duty to disclose potentially exonerating information.
That position has been endorsed by defense lawyers, prosecutors and the California attorney general.
Justice Goodwin Liu noted that prosecutors ultimately bear liability for failing to disclose favorable evidence.
If the prosecution is unaware that such evidence exists, convictions — even valid convictions — may eventually be overturned because of a failure to disclose, he said.
“The prosecution can’t take an ostrich-like approach to this very important duty,” Liu said.
But Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye suggested that the Legislature, not the court, might want to take steps to ensure that exonerating information is disclosed to the defense.
She said one possible remedy was to give trial judges sealed lists of law enforcement officers who have a history of misconduct. The judges could review those lists privately in chambers to determine whether the officers’ records were relevant in the case and should be disclosed.
“Doesn’t delivering the list directly to the court under seal … meet the problem without intruding overtly on the officers’ privacy?” she asked.
Justice Ming W. Chin also repeatedly asked whether that path, if carved out by the Legislature or by the court in a future case, could resolve the problem.
The case before the court stems from a lawsuit filed by the L.A. deputies union to prevent former Sheriff Jim McDonnell from turning over to the district attorney about 300 names of deputies with a history of misconduct.
A divided, Los Angeles-based court of appeal ruled in 2017 that the list must be kept secret, even in pending criminal cases in which errant deputies were expected to testify.
The state high court’s decision, due in 90 days, would affect law enforcement agencies throughout the state.
The case pits the privacy rights of law enforcement officers against the constitutional duty of prosecutors to give the defense evidence that might cast doubt on a defendant’s guilt, reduce a potential sentence or diminish the credibility of prosecution witnesses.
That duty stems from a landmark 1963 U.S. Supreme Court case, Brady vs. Maryland, which said suppression of evidence favorable to the defense violated due process.
At issue is only whether the names can be turned over to prosecutors, not whether they would become public.
But the presence of the names on a list means deputies could be one step closer to having their disciplinary files scrutinized by a judge and their police work called into question during a court proceeding.
Justice Mariano-Florentino Cuellar noted that the constitutional duty to disclose evidence favorable to the defense trumps state law intended to protect the privacy of law enforcement officers. He suggested the court could “harmonize” the laws.
He called the case “very challenging,” but also noted that “the Brady responsibility is on the state.”
Justice Joshua P. Groban expressed skepticism about the union’s legal arguments.
“You are saying as long as we can bar the door and keep the law enforcement agency from sharing that with the prosecution, then there is no Brady violation?” he asked the lawyer for the union.
Justice Carol A. Corrigan noted that officers whose names were on a list would have less privacy protection than others.
But she also said that a state law intended to protect officer privacy while allowing some disclosures may be hindering the release of information a criminal defendant is entitled to under the Constitution.
Under the system in place for four decades, defense attorneys and prosecutors may ask a trial judge to review an officer’s personnel file to determine whether there is evidence that must be disclosed.
But without knowing an officer’s history, a defense lawyer may not be able to persuade the judge to undertake a review.
“There are cases in which legitimate and material evidence is eluding their review,” Corrigan said.
Justice Leondra R. Kruger asked whether there were legal safeguards that could be imposed to protect officer privacy after the names were disclosed to prosecutors.
Aimee Feinberg, representing the state attorney general, said courts could issue protective orders to ensure the officers’ names were shielded from the public.
Geoffrey S. Sheldon, who argued for Los Angeles County, said he felt “good” about how the hearing went.
“I’m cautiously optimistic that we will prevail in the case,” he said.
Judith Posner, representing the union, said she couldn’t predict the outcome.
“There were a lot of interesting and probing questions on both sides,” she said.
Police departments in at least a dozen counties, including San Francisco, Sacramento and Ventura, have had a regular practice of sending prosecutors the names of so-called Brady list officers.
California’s strict laws protecting officer personnel files — which underpinned the appellate court’s ruling for the deputies union — were dramatically altered by a new transparency law that opened up records of confirmed cases of lying and sexual misconduct by officers, as well as shootings and serious uses of force.
SB 1421, which went into effect Jan. 1, allows the public to see many of the documents at issue in the L.A. County sheriff’s case.
But the new law does not apply to the broader range of misconduct that could put an officer on a Brady list, including domestic abuse, sexual harassment, racial discrimination and bribery.
Sheriff Alex Villanueva, who ousted McDonnell in a stunning upset last fall, has called the Brady list a “fake list” and says it was the result of corrupt investigations designed to retaliate against certain deputies.

By Michael G. Stogner

 

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