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Name: Abatti v. Superior Court
Case #: D042054
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 09/18/2003
Subsequent History: Rev. den. 11/12/03

Prior to his prosecution for assault with a deadly weapon, Abatti’s motion for review of a former police officer’s records pursuant to Brady v. Maryland and Pitchess v. Superior Court was denied. In his petition for writ of mandate, Abatti argued that it was error to deny the motion without conducting an in camera inspection to determine whether the records contained any exculpatory information or material which could be used to impeach the former officer, who was listed as a prosecution witness. He argued specifically that the court abused its discretion in refusing to review the “counseling memos” contained in the officer’s personnel records, or to at least make a record of the documents it considered in refusing the motion. He also argued that the five-year limitation on disclosure of such information (Evid. Code, sec. 1045, subd. (b)(1)) is not an absolute bar to disclosure of Brady information in those files, and that counsel’s declaration was sufficient to show the materiality of those records. The appellate court agreed, concluding that the trial court abused its discretion in failing to find materiality and good cause for the information sought, and ordering the court to conduct an in-camera review of the records. The information sought was impeachment evidence bearing on the credibility of the witness contained in counseling memos specifically identified by the custodian of records in an earlier Pitchess motion as containing information about the witness’s deficiencies as a police officer.