Friday, February 22, 2019

Mastagni Holstedt and Berry Wilkinson Challenge SB 1421's Retroactive Application In Supreme Court Amicus Brief

Mastagni Holstedt and the Berry Wilkinson Law Group were honored to file an amicus brief in the California Supreme Court on behalf of PORAC and the PORAC Legal Defense Fund.  The highly anticipated brief informs the Court on SB 1421's impact on the commonly referred  "Brady Tip Case" People v. Superior Court (Johnson)(2015).  As discussed at length in the Brief, pre-2019  Brady material contained in personnel files should only be disclosed through the Pitchess process.

You can access the entire brief here

The brief also highlights that there is no evidence that SB 1421 was ever meant to apply retroactively.  The fact that  complying with a request for pre-2019 records would be impossibly arduous, coupled with the State Legislature's silence on the issue,  is clear evidence that Legislators  did not intend to have SB 1421 apply retroactively. In fact, subjecting pre-2019 records to disclosure potentially violates crime victims' Constitutional rights. 

The case, Association for Los Angeles District Deputy Sheriffs v. Superior Court, is almost fully briefed and a decision should be forthcoming in the first half of the this year.  We are hopeful for a quick determination as to whether pre-2019 records must be disclosed pursuant to SB 1421, thereby avoiding the patchwork litigation throughout the state on retroactivity.  A Supreme Court determination in this appeal will also protect law enforcement unions and there members from further exposure to attorney fee liability to requesters, such as the ACLU and media organizations. (See,  Pasadena Police Officers Association v. City of Pasadena (2018), holding the POA and 2 members liable for the requester's fees in unsuccessfully opposing the disclosure of an after-action shooting report.)