Bulletins


 

California Supreme Court Agrees to Hear (and Hopefully Overturn) Recent Appellate Decision Allowing District Attorneys Direct Access to Peace Officer Personnel Files for Brady Material Review

We are delighted to announce that the California Supreme Court has granted review of the decision handed down by the First Appellate District on August 11, 2014 entitled People v. Superior Court (Daryl Lee Johnson) (2014) 228 Cal.App.4th 1046.

In our opinion, the Court of Appeal decision in this case was a terrible decision which essentially held that District Attorneys could directly access peace officer personnel files to review them to ascertain if there was material contained in the file which needed to be provided to the defense to comply with Brady v. Maryland (1963) 373 U.S. 83.

Writing on behalf of the PORAC Legal Defense Fund and all of its members, and the San Francisco Police Officers’ Association (the jurisdiction where this issue arose) and all of its officers, Mike Rains of RLS urged the Supreme Court to grant review of the Johnson decision, arguing that it directly contradicted an 11-year practice to the contrary which had first been decided by the Second District Court of Appeal in People v. Gutierrez (2003) 112 Cal.App.4th 1463.  RLS was joined in urging the Supreme Court to grant review of this decision by Ventura County District Attorney Greg Totten and by Riverside County District Attorney Paul Zellerbach.

In light of the Supreme Court’s decision granting review, the District Attorney “direct access” to peace officer personnel files to conduct Brady discovery examination permitted by Johnson is now on hold.

Mike and RLS are eagerly looking forward to appearing on behalf of PORAC LDF, San Francisco POA, and all of the individual officers represented by these organizations and arguing against the Johnson ruling, which potentially provides Deputy District Attorneys with access to peace officer background investigations, medical records, and other personal information having literally nothing whatsoever to do with issues concerning their credibility as witnesses in a criminal trial.

UBER assault victim hires RLS

RLS managing principal and trial attorney Harry Stern and RLS personal injury litigator Joseph Lucia are representing Roberto Chicas who was the victim of a hammer attack at the hands of an UBER driver in what has been become a highly-publicized incident. The case has garnered national media attention in light of the horrific nature off the injury—the client is in serious danger of losing his eye–and because of the growing controversy concerning UBER’s business model of flooding the streets with untested and untrained drivers while attempting to avoid liability. [Read more...]

RLS Asks the California Supreme Court to Overturn a Dangerous Decision Concerning Brady Discovery

The PORAC Legal Defense Fund and the San Francisco Police Officers’ Association asked RLS and Mike Rains to submit an Amicus Curiae letter to the California Supreme Court, urging the Court to overrule the recent holding of the First District Court of Appeal in People v. Superior Court (Johnson). That decision gave District Attorneys the right to directly access and inspect police officer personnel files pursuant to Penal Code section 832.7 in order to look for Brady discovery.  The potential intrusion into materials which are sensitive and private, and have nothing to do with Brady discovery, is simply too great, and there are less intrusive ways DA’s can satisfy their Brady obligations than rummaging through the personnel files of officers.

Click here to view full letter submitted by Mike.

Rains Lucia Stern, PC trial attorney Eustace de Saint Phalle and his co-counsel Michael Gatto win a future damage award that exceeds $100,000,000 in a medical malpractice case

Last Thursday afternoon a jury in Contra Costa County returned a verdict in the case of Brian C (a minor) vs. Contra Costa County Health Services, a medical malpractice case concerning negligent management of a twin pregnancy which resulted in the death of one twin and severe brain injury of the other.  The jury determined that the surviving twin would likely live another 74 years, would never be employable, and would need extensive future medical care for the rest of his life for a total future damage award of $111,700,000. [Read more...]

Federal Jury in San Francisco Clears Former Bart Police Officer Johannes Mehserle of Constitutional Rights Violations in the Fatal Shooting of Oscar Grant III

By Michael Rains, 7/28/14 

Although I am still exhausted from what I call the “Trial from Hell,” I am writing to report a tremendous verdict by a federal jury in San Francisco on July 1st relating to the fatal shooting of Oscar Grant III by our client, former BART Police Officer Johannes Mehserle. [Read more...]

High Court Releases Landmark Cell Phone Privacy Decision

By Steven Betz, 7/7/14

An issue that continues to cause concern, confusion, and anxiety for law enforcement officers, the general public, attorneys, and jurists is to what extent the government can intrude into the data that we all store on our cellular telephones. Since “smart phones” began to see common use in the general public in 2007, the average American carries with him or her voluminous private data in a small device that rarely is beyond arm’s reach. [Read more...]

RLS’s Mike Rains Successfully Defends Johannes Mehserle in Civil Rights Trial

Verdict:  No Monetary Damages for Oscar Grant’s Father
7/1/14

San Francisco Federal Court – Today a jury, presided over by the Honorable Edward Chen in San Francisco’s Federal District Court, found that Oscar Grant, Jr., the father of Oscar Grant III, is not entitled to monetary damages from former BART police officer Johannes Mehserle for “loss of familial relationship” after the unintentional shooting of Grant at BART’s Fruitvale Station in 2009.

“Five years later, the wounds are still there – I’m relieved that we can finally put this tragedy behind us, not just for Johannes and his family, but for the entire community,” said Mike Rains of Rains Lucia Stern, Mehserle’s defense counsel.  Rains also defended Mehserle in the 2010 criminal trial. [Read more...]

Particular Danger Required for Maintaining the Confidentiality of Peace Officers’ Names in On-Duty Shooting

By Zachery Lopes, 6/6/14

In an opinion issued on May 29, 2014, the California Supreme Court has declared that, absent particular facts demonstrating a specific danger, the names of officers involved in on-duty shootings are a disclosable public record. The Court’s decision in Long Beach Police Officers’ Association v. City of Long Beach, et al., also creates a concern that the definition of “personnel records” may be read more narrowly in various contexts in the future. [Read more...]

Supreme Court Reaffirms Graham v. Connor – Arkansas Officers’ Use Of Deadly Force Cleared

By Zachery Lopes, 6/4/14

In a ruling which strongly affirms Graham v. Connor’s guidance on analyzing use of force under the Fourth Amendment, the U.S. Supreme Court has unanimously found that Arkansas police officers did not use excessive force in violation of the Fourth Amendment when they shot and killed a fleeing motorist, ending a high-speed car chase which risked the lives of both the officers and numerous innocent bystanders. [Read more...]

Body – Worn Cameras: Coming To A Uniform Shirt Near You!

From: PORAC Law Enforcement News

By Rocky Lucia 5/2014

The Article: Body – Worn Cameras: Coming To A Uniform Shirt Near You!

The Comprehensive Outline: Rocky Lucia’s Negotiating Body Worn Camera Policies Outline

PORAC LE NEWS May 2014