The following sample Pitchess motion must be properly formatted with header information, line numbers, page numbers, etc. before being used in any court.
A Pitchess motion is a motion to discovery police officer personnel records, such as citizen complaints against the officer.
TO THE COURT AND THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY: PLEASE TAKE NOTICE that at the date and time indicated above, or as soon thereafter as the matter can be heard in the above entitled court, the defendant will move the Court for an order permitting discovery and disclosure of the personnel records of the following peace officers pursuant to Evidence Code §1043, or alternatively an in camera review by the court of said documents and release of discoverable documents:
1. Deputy Dogg, Badge 1234
2. Deputy Danny, Badge 4567
The Agency or Agencies having custody and control of the records sought are:
1. The Kern County Sheriff’s Department
The motion will be based on this Notice of Motion, on the attached memorandum of points and authorities, and filed herewith, and such supplemental memorandum of points and authorities that may be hereafter filed with the court or stated orally at the conclusion of the hearing, on all papers and records on file in this action and on such oral and documentary evidence as may be presented at the time of the motion.
By Bill Slocumb,
Attorney for Douglass Duhan
SCHEDULE OF ITEMS SOUGHT
1. The records sought concern the above entitled case, now pending in this court.
2. The peace officers whose personnel records are being sought are those listed above.
3. The agency or agencies having possession of the records are listed above.
4. The type of records sought include documents relating to reports, complaints, and investigations of:
a. Falsifying information;
b. Illegal search and seizure;
c. Excessive force;
d. Omissions of information in reporting investigations;
e. Dishonesty as the reporting of investigations; and
f. Conduct unbecoming of a peace officer.
This request includes complaints of misconduct. The disclosed information should include names, addresses and phone numbers of people who have filed complaints against any of the named officers pursuant to Evidence Code § 1045 (a) and 1043(b). (Pitchess v. Superior Court (1974) 11 Cal 3rd 531; People v. Wheeler (1992) 4 Cal 4th 284; California Constitution article I, section 28(d); Chambers v. Superior Court (2007) 42 Cal. 4th 673, 679; Warrick v. Superior Court (2005) 35 Cal. 4th 1011, 1019; People v. Gaines (2009) 46 Cal.4th 172, 179).
POINTS, AUTHORITIES, AND ARGUMENT
Law enforcement agency records maintained pursuant to Penal Code §§832.5, 832.7 and 832.8(e) are discoverable under Evidence Code §1043 and 1045.
Evidence Code §1045(a) provides:
Nothing in this article shall be construed to affect the right of access to records of complaints, or investigations of complaints, or discipline imposed as a result of such investigations, concerning an event or transaction in which the peace officer participated, or which he perceived, and pertaining to the manner in which he performed his duties, provided that such information is relevant to the subject matter involved in the pending litigation.
A defendant is entitled to discovery of information relating to an officer’s personnel records where the accused shows the materiality of the subject matter of the pending case and a reasonable belief that that agency possesses the requested information. (City of Santa Cruz v. Municipal Court (1989) 49 Cal. 3rd 74, 84.) Evidence of a law enforcement officer’s tendency to be dishonest in support of Defendant’s theory in this case is relevant and admissible under Evidence Code §1103. (People v. Memro (1985) 38 Cal. 3rd 658; Pitchess v. Superior Court (1974) 11 Cal. 3rd 531, 537; City of Santa Cruz v. Municipal Court (1989) 49 Cal. 3rd 74, 84.) Likewise, evidence of an officer’s excessive use of force/violence in the pending matter is relevant where the defendant is accused of resisting and delaying a peace officer.
Further, the only showing necessary is that the defense provide a plausible theory as how the discovery would be admissible for the court to grant the disclosure. (Warwick v. Superior Court (2005) 35 Cal. 4th 1011, 1026)
DECLARATION IN SUPPORT OF MOTION FOR DISCOVERY
I, Bill Slocumb, Attorney for Defendant, declare:
1. Defendant is presently charged with Penal Code §243(b) (Battery on a Peace Officer) and Penal Code §148(a)(1) (Resisting Arrest);
2. According to witness reports (attached), the named officers entered Defendant’s residence without consent, handcuffed Defendant, then slammed him against a wall, forced him to the ground, and pepper sprayed him in the face.
3. Law enforcement reports (attached) differ from witness reports, but confirm that physical violence was done to Defendant and that he was pepper sprayed.
4. I am informed and believe that during this investigation Defendant did not give consent for officers to enter his home as alleged in police reports. Defendant did not resist a lawful arrest as alleged in police reports. Officers used excessive force and violence against Defendant, and officers violated department policy when arresting Defendant.
5. The officer records are relevant and material because a substantial issue in the trial of this case may include dishonesty/truthfulness, illegal search and seizure, and not performing duties legally by the officers involved, as well as their credibility.
6. The materials requested are necessary for the proper preparation of this case for trial so as to locate and investigate witnesses to the character, habits, and customs of the peace officer involved to show that the peace officer acted in conformity with that character at the time of this incident and to impeach the testimony of the peace officer.
7. Declarant is informed and believes and alleges that said records are presently within the custody of the agency or agencies listed above, and Defendant has no other means to secure said information.
I declare that the foregoing is true and correct to the best of my knowledge and belief.
By Bill Slocumb,
Attorney for Douglass Duhan