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Name: People v. Galan
Case #: B209903
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 6
Opinion Date: 10/05/2009
Summary

Although a criminal defendant can compel discovery of relevant information in the personnel files of police officers by making general allegations which establish some cause for discovery of that information and by showing how it would support a defense to the charge against him, the allegations may be refuted by defendant’s statements to the police officers at the time of his arrest. On a showing of good cause, a defendant is entitled to discovery of relevant documents or information in confidential personnel files of a police officer accused of misconduct against defendant. However, good cause must reflect a plausible factual scenario of misconduct. In this case, according to the police reports, appellant led pursuing officers on a vehicle chase, during which he stopped on several occasions and backed in the direction of the officers, causing them to take evasive actions. When finally stopped, appellant, in a recorded interrogation, stated that he did not stop because he wished to avoid arrest and agreed that while he came in close proximity of the officers, he did not intend to strike them. Appellant’s Pitchess motion (Pitchess v. Superior Court (1974) 11 Cal.3d 531), seeking police officer personnel files with a declaration that the officers fabricated evidence, etc. was denied by the trial court which found that no plausible factual scenario in support of the claim was advanced. The appellate court agreed, ruling that in view of appellant’s statements when arrested, appellant failed to present a plausible scenario of police misconduct justifying discovery of police personnel records.