Motion for Discovery of Peace Officer Personnel Records (Pitchess Motion)

In Pitchess v. Superior Court, 11 Cal.3d 531 (1975), the court first used what is commonly referred to today as a Pitchess Motion. The California Legislature codified “Pitchess motions” in 1978 through amendments and additions to the Penal Code, specifically sections 832.7 and 832.83 and Evidence Code sections 1043 through 1045.4. A Pitchess Motion is required when “discovery or disclosure is sought of peace or custodial officer personnel records or records maintained pursuant to Penal Code § 832.5 or information from those records.” (Evid. Code § 1043(a).)

An initial question under Pitchess is whether the moving party has shown that the requested review would be material to the issues in the case. (Warrick v. Superior Court, 35 Cal.4th 1011, 1027 (2005).)

Section 1043(b) of the evidence code requires that a Pitchess motion must include:

  1. “identification of the proceeding in which discovery or disclosure is sought, the party seeking discovery or disclosure, the peace or custodial officer whose records are sought, the governmental agency which has custody and control of the records, and the time and place at which the motion for discovery or disclosure shall be heard;
  2. a description of the type of records or information sought; and
  3. affidavits showing good cause for the discovery or disclosure sought, setting forth the materiality thereof to the subject matter involved in the pending litigation and stating upon reasonable belief that the governmental agency identified has the records or information from the records.”

(Evid. Code § 1043(b).)

To show good cause, which is “a relatively low threshold for discovery,” (City of Santa Cruz v. Municipal Court, 49 Cal.3d 74, 83 (1989).), the defendant must “establish not only a logical link between the defense proposed and the pending charge, but also to articulate how the discovery being sought would support such a defense or how it would impeach the officer’s version of events.” (Warrick, 35 Cal.4th at 1021.) But “the information sought must, however, be ‘requested with adequate specificity to preclude the possibility that defendant is engaging in a ‘fishing expedition.’” (City of Santa Cruz, 49 Cal.3d at 85.)

Plaintiffs may be “entitled to the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of the complainants and witnesses.” (Warrick, 35 Cal.4th at 1019.)

“When a trial court concludes a defendant’s Pitchess motion shows good cause for discovery of relevant evidence contained in a law enforcement officer's personnel files, the custodian of the records is obligated to bring to the trial court all "potentially relevant" documents to permit the trial court to examine them for itself.” (City of Santa Cruz, 49 Cal.3d at p. 84.) A court reporter should be present to document the custodian's statements, as well as any questions the trial court may wish to ask the custodian regarding the completeness of the record. (People v. Jackson, 13 Cal.4th at p. 1221, fn. 10.)

Useful Resources for Discovery of Police Officer Misconduct Records

Recent Rulings on Discovery of Police Officer Misconduct Records

AMERICA CHUNG NAM LLC, A CALIFORNIA LIMITED LIABILITY COMPANY VS LI 'MICHAEL' DU

Pitchess, (1973) 36 Cal.App.3d 321, 327-28. The attorney’s fees necessary to successfully procure a final decision dissolving the injunction also are damages that should be included in setting the bond. Abba, supra, 235 Cal.App.3d at 15-16. The greater the likelihood of the plaintiff prevailing, the less likely the preliminary injunction will have been wrongly issued, which is a relevant factor for setting the bond. Oiye v. Fox, (2012) 211 Cal.App.4th 1036, 1062.

  • Hearing

    Jan 19, 2021

GETHSEMANI CHURCH, CHRISTIAN PENTECOSTAL FOURSQUARE GOSPEL, INC. VS MICHAEL A. GONZALEZ, AN INDIVIDUAL, ET AL.

Pitchess, (1973) 36 Cal.App.3d 321, 327-28. The attorney’s fees necessary to successfully procure a final decision dissolving the injunction also are damages that should be included in setting the bond. Abba, supra, 235 Cal.App.3d at 15-16. The greater the likelihood of the plaintiff prevailing, the less likely the preliminary injunction will have been wrongly issued, which is a relevant factor for setting the bond. Oiye v. Fox, (2012) 211 Cal.App.4th 1036, 1062.

  • Hearing

    Jan 14, 2021

  • Type

    Real Property

  • Sub Type

    other

SCARLETT BENCHLEY VS SBE

Hearing on Motion for Discovery of Peace Officer Personnel Records (Pitchess Motion) set for 01/11/2021 and any pending motions or hearings, including trial or status conferences, will be reset, continued or vacated at the direction of the newly assigned Independent Calendar Court. (NOTE: All hearings currently set in Department 29 of the Spring Street Courthouse are taken off calendar subject to being reset and notified by the receiving court Re: New hearing dates.)

  • Hearing

    Jan 11, 2021

DENNY CAO VS. CITY OF SACRAMENTO

Pitchess (1975) 13 Cal.3d 518, 521.) "Unless Congress confers exclusive jurisdiction on federal courts, state courts competent to exercise it have concurrent jurisdiction to enforce federal law in civil {Quelimane Ca v. Stewart Title Guaranty Co. (1998) 19 Cal.4''' 26, 38.) "Irrespective ofthe labels attached by the pleader to any alleged cause of action, we examine the factual allegations of the complaint, to determine whether they state a cause of action on any available legal theory." {Adelman v.

  • Hearing

    Jan 08, 2021

DENNY CAO VS. CITY OF SACRAMENTO

Pitchess (1975) 13 Cal.3d 518, 521.) “Unless Congress confers exclusive jurisdiction on federal courts, state courts competent to exercise it have concurrent jurisdiction to enforce federal law in civil actions.” (Id.) State courts thus have concurrent jurisdiction over actions alleging deprivations of federal constitutional and statutory rights. (Id. at 523.) (Quelimane Co. v. Stewart Title Guaranty Co. (1998) 19 Cal.4th 26, 38.)

  • Hearing

    Jan 08, 2021

JULIE A ESPHORST VS DARRYL LEANDER HICKS ET AL

Esphorst Responding Party: Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Motion for Peace Officer Personnel Records (Pitchess) The court considered the moving, opposition, and reply papers.

  • Hearing

    Jan 07, 2021

  • Type

    Personal Injury/ Tort

  • Sub Type

    Auto

OLEKSANDR MELNYK VS BEVERLY HILLS BMW, ET AL.

In Pitchess v. Superior Court (1975) 11 Cal.3d 531, the California Supreme Court held that a criminal defendant is entitled to discovery of an officer's personnel records if the information contained in the records is relevant to his ability to defend against the charge. Later enacted legislation implementing the court's rule permitting discovery (Pen. Code, §§ 832.5, 832.7, 832.8; Evid.

  • Hearing

    Dec 14, 2020

  • Type

    Personal Injury/ Tort

  • Sub Type

    other

ABBIE GRAY VS CITY OF LOS ANGELES ET AL

.: BC686939 MOTION: Motion for Discovery of Peace Officer Personnel Records (Pitchess Motion) HEARING DATE: 12/10/2020 DISCOVERY DISPUTE Plaintiff Abbie Gray filed a motion seeking 14 categories of documents related the investigation into the officer-involved shooting that occurred on November 4, 2016 on the Boardwalk in Venice, CA.

  • Hearing

    Dec 10, 2020

  • Type

    Personal Injury/ Tort

  • Sub Type

    other

WESTERN ALLIANCE BANK, AN ARIZONA CORPORATION VS TM ABBOT KINNEY, LLC, A CALIFORNIA LIMITED LIABILITY COMPANY, ET AL.

Pitchess (1968) 262 Cal.App.2d 490, 493.) Plaintiff seeks summary adjudication on the issue of whether Plaintiff “has the right to immediate possession of the Collateral as described in the Commercial Security Agreement. Plaintiffs entitled to a judgment requiring the Defendants to deliver up possession of all Collateral to Plaintiff.” The third issue does not mention the claim and delivery cause of action, but it appears to be in direct reference to it. (See Compl. ¶ 28.)

  • Hearing

    Dec 01, 2020

ERICA AVILES V. CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS AND

Sullivan a Pitchess motion may properly target. Penal Code section 832.7’s declaration of peace officer personnel record confidentiality notwithstanding Pitchess motions does not apply to Ms. Sullivan’s personnel file. Plaintiff may discover information from Ms. Sullivan’s personnel file by traditional discovery procedures. Conclusion. Plaintiff’s motion is granted with regard to all identified complaint and employment records except those of Office Technician Tracy Sullivan.

  • Hearing

    Nov 25, 2020

LEE ROSSUM VS LOS ANGELES COUNTY PROBATION DEPARTMENT

Rice (1) Plaintiff’s Pitchess Motion, continued from September 30, 2020 Moving Party: Plaintiff Lee Rossum Responding Party: Defendant Los Angeles County Probation Department Ruling: Plaintiff’s Pitchess Motion is granted. As a preliminary matter, on June 30, 2020, Plaintiff filed a Motion to Compel Further Responses to Requests for Production of Documents (Set One), and Special Interrogatories (Set One), which Plaintiff also labelled a Pitchess motion.

  • Hearing

    Nov 20, 2020

  • Type

    Employment

  • Sub Type

    Other Employment

KERRY OLEJNICZAK VS. CIRCLE K STORES INC

Pitchess (1973) 36 Cal.App.3d 321, 332.) Plaintiff also takes issue with defendant's response to form interrogatory 17.1 as it relates to the RFAs discussed above. Plaintiff argues that if Defendant is denying the RFAs, it "should have some fact witness or document justifying its belief..." and that the form interrogatories should be amended if the court grants the motion to compel further responses to the RFAs.

  • Hearing

    Nov 19, 2020

ROCIO SABBAH ARIELLA SABBAH ET AL VS COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES

Defendant in opposition contends that the first three questions regarding causation lacked foundation, were speculative and the subject matter for expert testimony, while the last two question regarding communications with a superior officer and any internal investigation remain the subject matter of a Pitchess motion for the personnel file.

  • Hearing

    Nov 03, 2020

GARY R. WISNER, M.D. VS DIGNITY HEALTH ET AL.

Superior Court (2000) 84 Cal.App.4th 1010, 1013 [burden to show good cause is on party seeking Pitchess discovery of police personnel files].) The showing of good cause “should include some explanation of ‘what additional facts plaintiff expects to uncover …’ [Citation]” (1-800 Contacts, Inc. v. Steinberg (2003) 107 Cal.App.4th 568, 593.) “Discovery may not be obtained merely to ‘test’ the opponent’s declarations.” (Id.)

  • Hearing

    Nov 02, 2020

EDDIE RANKIN, III VS CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS AND REHABILITATION

Pitchess Motion Specifically, CDCR contends that pursuant to Evidence Code section 1043, Plaintiff cannot discover information from peace officer records, such as home addresses and contact information, absent the court granting a Pitchess Motion. (Id.) Further, CDCR contends that Plaintiff’s motion does not comply with the requirements of a Pitchess Motion as it does not include an affidavit of good cause.

  • Hearing

    Oct 28, 2020

  • Type

    Employment

  • Sub Type

    Discrimination/Harass

MICHAEL FRILOT VS CITY OF HERMOSA BEACH, A MUNICIPAL CORPORATION, ET AL.

Hearing Date: October 20, 2020 Moving Parties: Defendants City of Hermosa Beach and Hermosa Beach Police Department Responding Party: None Motion for Use of Plaintiff’s Peace Officer Personnel Records (Pitchess) The court considered the moving papers. RULING The motion is GRANTED. Defendants City of Hermosa Beach and Hermosa Beach Police Department shall be permitted to use and disclose as necessary the peace officer personnel records of plaintiff as follows: 1.

  • Hearing

    Oct 20, 2020

  • Type

    Employment

  • Sub Type

    Other Employment

COUNTY OF EL DORADO V. SZEGEDY

Pitchess (1974) 41 Cal.App.3d 42, 46, 115 Cal.Rptr. 746 [same].) ¶ If the threshold requirement of irreparable injury is established, then we must examine two interrelated factors to determine whether the trial court's decision to issue a preliminary injunction should be upheld: “(1) the likelihood that the moving party will ultimately prevail on the merits and (2) the relative interim harm to the parties from issuance or nonissuance of the injunction.” (Butt v.

  • Hearing

    Oct 16, 2020

JOHN DOE VS EL CAMINO COMMUNITY COLLEGE DISTRICT, ET AL.

On August 13, 2020, Doe filed a Pitchess motion to require District to disclose information from Toruno’s personnel file and investigatory records. PITCHESS MOTION 1) Plaintiff Doe’s Pitchess Motion-GRANTED Standard: There is a special two-step procedure for securing disclosure of peace officer personnel records. Warrick v. Superior Court (2005) 35 Cal.4th 1011, 1019.

  • Hearing

    Oct 15, 2020

LOS ANGELES COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT VS RESPONDENT COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION, ET AL.

The Department acknowledges that if someone requests the personnel file of a peace officer, in most circumstances they must make a Pitchess motion for which there is a statutory five-year limitation on disclosure of the information. Evid. Code,[6] §1045(b). However, the five-year limitation is not absolute and can be trumped by Brady. City of Los Angeles v. Superior Court, (2002) 29 Cal.4th 1, 11. Pet. Op. Br. at 11.

  • Hearing

    Oct 06, 2020

  • Type

    Administrative

  • Sub Type

    Writ

NG VS FISCHER

TENTATIVE RULING Plaintiff's motion for discovery of personnel information under Evidence Code section 1043 and Pitchess v. Superior Court (1974) 11 Ca1.3d 531 is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part. The Sheriff is directed to produce the documents identified below for in camera review on October 27, 2020 at 10:00 a.m. Preliminary Matters The Sheriff's objection to plaintiff's request for judicial notice is overruled.

  • Hearing

    Oct 01, 2020

  • Type

    Other

  • Sub Type

    Intellectual Property

AH VS FISCHER

TENTATIVE RULING Plaintiff's motion for discovery of personnel information under Evidence Code section 1043 and Pitchess v. Superior Court (1974) 11 Ca1.3d 531 is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part. The Sheriff is directed to produce the documents identified below for in camera review on October 27, 2020 at 10:00 a.m. Preliminary Matters The Sheriff's objection to plaintiff's request for judicial notice is overruled.

  • Hearing

    Oct 01, 2020

  • Type

    Other

  • Sub Type

    Intellectual Property

C VS FISCHER

TENTATIVE RULING Plaintiff's motion for discovery of personnel information under Evidence Code section 1043 and Pitchess v. Superior Court (1974) 11 Ca1.3d 531 is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part. The Sheriff is directed to produce the documents identified below for in camera review on October 27, 2020 at 10:00 a.m. Preliminary Matters The Sheriff's objection to plaintiff's request for judicial notice is overruled.

  • Hearing

    Oct 01, 2020

  • Type

    Personal Injury/ Tort

  • Sub Type

    other

DA VS FISCHER

TENTATIVE RULING Plaintiff's motion for discovery of personnel information under Evidence Code section 1043 and Pitchess v. Superior Court (1974) 11 Ca1.3d 531 is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part. The Sheriff is directed to produce the documents identified below for in camera review on October 27, 2020 at 10:00 a.m. Preliminary Matters The Sheriff's objection to plaintiff's request for judicial notice is overruled.

  • Hearing

    Oct 01, 2020

  • Type

    Other

  • Sub Type

    Intellectual Property

FRANKLIN SR. VS. NEWSOME

While plaintiff references a Pitchess Motion, there is no showing of any facts or legal argument for a Pitchess motion. Many of the statements appear to be in response to his criminal cases and/or requesting staff at the prison be criminally indicted which are not within the jurisdiction of the civil court.

  • Hearing

    Oct 01, 2020

  • Type

    Personal Injury/ Tort

  • Sub Type

    other

T D VS FISCHER

TENTATIVE RULING Plaintiff's motion for discovery of personnel information under Evidence Code section 1043 and Pitchess v. Superior Court (1974) 11 Ca1.3d 531 is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part. The Sheriff is directed to produce the documents identified below for in camera review on October 27, 2020 at 10:00 a.m. Preliminary Matters The Sheriff's objection to plaintiff's request for judicial notice is overruled.

  • Hearing

    Oct 01, 2020

  • Type

    Other

  • Sub Type

    Intellectual Property

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