Earlier this week, an article appeared in the Union-Tribune about our District Attorney’s office and a list they keep of police officers they do not trust. It was referred to as the Brady List. Brady was the name of a Supreme Court case years ago that said prosecutors have to provide exculpatory information to defendants for their trials to be Constitutionally fair. Included in this category is information about witnesses, including any law enforcement personnel, that tends to show they may have had problems in the past or have been dishonest. The idea being, if they screwed around before, they might be doing the same bad things in the current case.
I found the article about the Brady List disturbing for several reasons. First, it was glaringly too short. While no specific numbers were provided, it appears the list is between 5 and 10 names long. There is no way only 10 police officers, deputies, highway patrol officers, Federal and other law enforcement in San Diego County. There have been more than that indicted in the last couple years or so. Speaking as an attorney with 18 years of experience in criminal law, most cops are honest and trustworthy. But, there are a hell of a lot more than 10 dishonest ones that have been shown to be dishonest.
Second, apparently the prosecutors sometimes take cops names off the list. That makes no sense. If they have been so egregious that they earned their way onto the list, what could possibly change that? If I had to make an educated guess, it happens when a long period of time has passed since whatever the cop did that was wrong. That shouldn’t be up to the prosecutors to decide. Even if it happened a long time ago, it should still be disclosed to the defense and let a judge decide if it can be used in court or not. I am aware of a police officer who was accused by a prosecutor of falsifying arrest reports and then lying about the incidents in court testimony nearly 20 years ago. Guess what, I proved he lied in a report and in court just a couple years ago. Once on the list, you should stay there.
Third and perhaps most scary, what are these people doing still carting a gun and a badge? If you do something bad enough that the prosecutors are willing to say you shouldn’t be trusted anymore, then you shouldn’t be a cop anymore. Aside from the absurdity of us taxpayers still paying the bad cops, they are in a position of authority that can be far too easily abused and exploited. They should be fired. Wal-Mart needs security guards, too.