San Francisco Pitchess Update
April 25, 2003
As I'm sure many of you know, it has come to light that
the San Francisco Police Department has kept two sets of
files regarding police misconduct, a regular file and a
"PIP" (Performance Improvement Program) file.
When Pitchess motions (Pitchess v. Superior Court (1974)
11 Cal.3d 531) have been filed for discovery of police officer
misconduct information, the Police Department has provided
information from the regular file but not from the PIP file.
In one recent case, it was shown that the PIP file contained
an extensive memo regarding misconduct of the officer, but
the regular file did not. The practice of not disclosing
the PIP file may go back as far as at least December 2000,
and possibly as far back as 1997 for some cases.
The San Francisco Public Defender office has been meeting
with the police and court and city officials about this
matter. It appears that hundreds of cases were affected.
At this point, there is no mechanism established for review
of those cases. It is not clear if and/or when such a mechanism
will be established.
At this point I am just writing to ask you to let me know
if you have:
- an open appeal (i.e., not yet final)
- in which there was a Pitchess motion made at trial (it
doesn't matter if the motion was granted or denied, and
it doesn't matter if the Pitchess motion is or is not an
issue which you have considered raising in the appeal prior
to these current revelations).
I am not sure what advice we will be giving you regarding
such cases, but initially we would like to identify such
open appeals. Thus, please email, write, or call me to let
me know if you have such an appeal, and if so: (1) the case
number; (2) current status of the appeal; (3) whether the
Pitchess motion was granted or denied; and (4) whether you
have or were considering raising it in the appeal prior
to the current information.
If you have a closed appeal in which there was a Pitchess
motion, please don't contact us about it yet; we'll first
be dealing with open appeals, and once we know more about
what if any mechanism is being set up in Superior Court
we'll address the question of closed appeals.
Update June 23, 2003: The San Francisco Superior Court
will soon be appointing a special master to review the now-
estimated 3,500 Pitchess cases. The master should begin
to work by the end of July. The master will first work to
narrow down the potential cases in which Pitchess materials
might have made a difference. Those cases will then be reviewed
to determine what documents should have been disclosed.
In addition to the Performance Improvement Program (PIP)
files which were not disclosed, it is possible that certain
other files (probation and field trainig files) may also
be included. Public Defender Jeff Adachi estimates that
cases dating to 1997 will probably be included in the master's
We will continue to update you on developments.