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Name: People v. Guevara
Case #: B182951
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 6
Opinion Date: 02/28/2007
Summary

Reversal required where the appellate court could not adequately assess the legitimacy of the custodian of records’ determination that no records were discoverable under Pitchess. Prior to his trial for battery on a police officer and resisting arrest, Guevara moved for access to confidential personnel records of the officers involved in the case. The trial court found no discoverable documents, and Guevara sought review of the sealed transcript to determine if there was error. The appellate court reversed the judgment and ordered remand for a new Pitchess hearing. At the in-camera hearing, the custodian of records stated that none of the files contained any information which was potentially responsive to the discovery request. Accordingly no documents were submitted to the court for review. Although the custodian of records was required to submit for review only those documents which were potentially responsive to the Pitchess request, the Supreme Court has directed that the custodian must state what other documents were not presented and why they were deemed irrelevant or nonresponsive. Absent this information, the court cannot adequately assess the completeness of the custodian’s review of the files, or establish the legitimacy of his decisions. No such record existed in this case. There was no indication that the trial court actually reviewed the list prepared by the city attorney in support of the custodian’s decision to produce no records. The appellate court was unable to review the list because it was not a part of the record on appeal and could not be located. Therefore, remand was required.