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 Rulings on Discovery of Police Officer Misconduct Records

Recent Rulings on Discovery of Police Officer Misconduct Records

ART HERNANDEZ, ET AL. VS COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES, A MUNICIPAL ENTITY, ET AL.

Based on these definitions, the following documents requested by Plaintiffs are not subject to the Pitchess procedure: Plaintiffs argue in their reply that Defendants have said they would not provide the requested documents other than through a Pitchess motion. If that is the case, it would be disingenuous of Defendants to now argue that many of the documents are not subject to a Pitchess motion, but it does not make that argument incorrect.

  • Hearing

    Jul 09, 2020

  • Type

    Employment

  • Sub Type

    Other Employment

ASHLEY GONZALEZ VS CITY OF LOS ANGELES ET AL

Now, Plaintiff brings this Pitchess motion seeking a series of information from Johnson’s personnel file.

  • Hearing

    Jul 08, 2020

  • Type

    Personal Injury/ Tort

  • Sub Type

    other

ESTATE OF ZELALEM ESHETU EWNETU ET AL VS COUNTY OF LA ET AL

On October 4, 2019, the Court granted Plaintiffs’ motion for production of personnel and internal affairs files of the individual peace officer defendants (Pitchess motion).

  • Hearing

    Jul 07, 2020

  • Type

    Personal Injury/ Tort

  • Sub Type

    other

MICHAEL A NICHOLS ET AL VS GERAGOS & GERAGOS ET AL

PITCHESS MOTION Evid. Code section 1043, subd. (a) requires that a party seeking disclosure of police officer “personnel records” file a particular motion, a Pitchess motion. (Cf. Pitchess v. Superior Court (1974) 11 Cal.3d 531.) “Personnel records” are defined as “primary records specific to each peace or custodial officer's employment, including evaluations, assignments, status changes, and imposed discipline.” (Pen. Code, § 832.5, subd (d)(1).)

  • Hearing

    Jun 30, 2020

LACY R VS GERMAN MEJIA ET AL

Defendant City of Los Angeles objected to the requests at issue on the grounds that they call for information protected under Penal Code 832.5, 832.7 and 832.8 which may only be produced pursuant to a Motion for Discovery of Peace Officer Personnel records under Evidence Code 1043 (“Pitchess” Motion) and the requests invade the privilege of self-critical analysis under Government Code 6254(c).

  • Hearing

    Jun 26, 2020

ADONIS CUTCHLOW VS CITY OF LOS ANGELES, ET AL.

Defendant also argues that references to officer’s disciplinary proceedings should be stricken because such records are confidential and disclosure requires the filing of a Pitchess motion. Plaintiff argues that “Me Too” evidence is relevant. (See Johnson v.

  • Hearing

    Jun 24, 2020

  • Type

    Employment

  • Sub Type

    Other Employment

GREGORY ROUTT VS CITY OF BEVERLY HILLS

Hayes’ Pitchess Motion[1] 1. Moving Papers On December 26, 2019, Hayes filed a Pitchess motion (Pitchess v. Superior Court (1974) 11 Cal.3d 531) for an order to compel the following records from the City: · Moreno Trial Exhibit 38: [Renato Moreno, et. al. v. City of Beverly Hills (BC687003)]. The Debra Reilly report, dated January 29, 2018; a 476-page summary, with numerous documents and witness statements.

  • Hearing

    Jun 24, 2020

  • Type

    Employment

  • Sub Type

    Other Employment

GREGORY ROUTT VS CITY OF BEVERLY HILLS

Hayes’ Pitchess Motion[1] 1. Moving Papers On December 26, 2019, Hayes filed a Pitchess motion (Pitchess v. Superior Court (1974) 11 Cal.3d 531) for an order to compel the following records from the City: · Moreno Trial Exhibit 38: [Renato Moreno, et. al. v. City of Beverly Hills (BC687003)]. The Debra Reilly report, dated January 29, 2018; a 476-page summary, with numerous documents and witness statements.

  • Hearing

    Jun 24, 2020

  • Type

    Employment

  • Sub Type

    Other Employment

PEREZ VS. CITY OF EL CERRITO

Indeed, the Pitchess statutes themselves expressly contemplate the possibility of discovery of the same subject matter by non-Pitchess means.

  • Hearing

    Jun 19, 2020

SEAFLOOR SYSTEMS, INC. V. TAMPLIN

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

    Jun 12, 2020

SANCHEZ V HARTFIELD

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

    Jun 12, 2020

DECKER V. COUNTY OF SANTA CLARA, ET AL.

Pitchess (1971) 5 Cal.3d 258, 267-268.) It continued that given the state’s comprehensive statutory scheme regarding prohibitions against animal cruelty and the many avenues it provided for the enforcement of those prohibitions, “the very purpose of a section 526a action is not furthered by plaintiffs lawsuit here, since it cannot be said that defendants’ conduct- if indeed violative of the animal cruelty laws- would go unchallenged in the absence of a taxpayer action ….”

  • Hearing

    Jun 04, 2020

SOUTHWEST COLLEGE SUN VS SOUTHWESTERN COMMUNITY COLLEGE DISTRICT

Thus, the statute is silent whether Pitchess applies to records requested pursuant to subsection (b) when the legislature (1) was clearly aware of the Pitchess procedure; and (2) purposefully chose not to include it in the clause maintaining the Pitchess procedure for subsection (a). This strongly suggests the Pitchess procedure is NOT required under § 832.7(b).

  • Hearing

    Mar 12, 2020

  • Type

    Administrative

  • Sub Type

    Writ

JORGE MONTENEGRO VS CITY OF L A DEPT OF L A WORLD AIRPORTS

A motion to discover a law enforcement officer’s personnel file or other police agency record that contains relevant information is called a Pitchess motion. (Pitchess v. Superior Court (1974) 11 Cal.3d 531, 536-540.) The Pitchess motion has been partly codified in Evidence Code, section 1043, which makes law enforcement personnel records privileged and subject to disclosure only by noticed motion. (Evid. Code, § 1043; Pen. Code, § 832.7(a).)

  • Hearing

    Mar 11, 2020

  • Type

    Employment

  • Sub Type

    Other Employment

THE SUNSET LANDMARK INVESTMENT, LLC, A CALIFORNIA LIMITED LIABILITY COMPANY, PETITIONER VS CITY OF LOS ANGELES, A MUNICIPAL CORPORATION, ET AL.

As such, the Pitchess court determined that “Evidence Code section 1040… represents the exclusive means by which a public entity may assert a claim of governmental privilege based on the necessity for secrecy.” (Pitchess, supra, 11 Cal.3d at 540; see also Commission on Judicial Performance v. Superior Court (2007) 156 Cal.App.4th 617, 623 (concluding the same).) In Marylander, a defendant in a pending civil action sought to compel memoranda from the Governor’s Office relevant to his defense.

  • Hearing

    Feb 24, 2020

  • Type

    Administrative

  • Sub Type

    Writ

GWENDOLYN CRANERT VS TERRENCE CRANERT, ET AL.

Pitchess (1968) 262 Cal.App.2d 490, 493; McFaddin v. H.S. Crocker Co. (1963) 219 Cal.App.2d 585, 590.) This remedy cannot be employed independently; it is available only as an auxiliary remedy in an action for the recovery of personal property. (McFaddin, supra, 219 Cal.App.2d at 590.) CCP § 512.010 lists the requirements for an application of writ of possession to seek the provisional remedy of claim and delivery of personal property.

  • Hearing

    Feb 24, 2020

STACIE HERNANDEZ VS CALIFORNIA STATE PRISON -- LOS ANGELES COUNTY, A GOVERNMENT ENTITY, ET AL.

The exclusive means for obtaining these materials is through a Pitchess motion. (County of Los Angeles v. Superior Court (1990) 219 Cal.App.3d 1605, 1611.)

  • Hearing

    Feb 14, 2020

  • Type

    Employment

  • Sub Type

    Other Employment

KRISTA PEREZ VS THE COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES

Plaintiff Krista Perez’s Pitchess Motion is GRANTED as to Categories (3), (5)-(17), (21)-(23), and (30), and only as to records created on or after March 1, 2012. The motion is DENIED as to Categories (1), (2), (4), (18)-(20), and (24)-(29). No sanctions are awarded. PITCHESS MOTION Evid. Code section 1043, subd. (a) requires that a party seeking disclosure of police officer “personnel records” file a particular motion, a Pitchess motion. (Cf. Pitchess v. Superior Court (1974) 11 Cal.3d 531.)

  • Hearing

    Feb 04, 2020

JOSE ANGEL LEYBA ET AL VS ANGEL GUILLERMO GRANDES ET AL

Evidence Code § 1043(b) provides that a Pitchess motion must include the following: a description of the type of records or information sought (Evid. Code § 1043(b)(2)); and 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)(3)).

  • Hearing

    Feb 03, 2020

  • Type

    Personal Injury/ Tort

  • Sub Type

    Auto

DENISE BERTONE VS COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES

Bertone filed a Motion for Discovery of Peace Officer Personnel Records (Pitchess Motion) on July 19, 2019, which this Court granted. Bertone filed the instant Motion to Compel Further Response and Production of Documents on July 22, 2019. County of Los Angeles filed the instant Motion for Protective Order on January 24, 2020. Bertone filed an Opposition to Defendant’s Motion for Protective Order on January 28, 2020. County has not filed a Reply.

  • Hearing

    Jan 31, 2020

  • Type

    Employment

  • Sub Type

    Other Employment

SINGH V. HAMID

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

    Jan 31, 2020

RICHMOND POLICE VS. CITY OF RICHMOND

Amended Penal Code § 832.7 provides access to certain records of police misconduct through a California Public Records Act (“CPRA”) request without having to file a Pitchess motion. On January 24, 2019, the Richmond Police Officers Association (RPOA) filed its Petition initiating this action.

  • Hearing

    Jan 24, 2020

KOREAN WESTERN PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH OF LOS ANGELES VS JONG SUK CHOI, 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, and that is a relevant factor for setting the bond. Oiye v. Fox, (2012) 211 Cal.App.4th 1036, 1062.

  • Hearing

    Jan 16, 2020

  • Type

    Business

  • Sub Type

    Intellectual Property

DENISE BERTONE VS COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES

Discussion PITCHESS MOTION Evid. Code section 1043, subd. (a) requires that a party seeking disclosure of police officer “personnel records” file a particular motion, a Pitchess motion. (Cf. Pitchess v. Superior Court (1974) 11 Cal.3d 531.) “Personnel records” are defined as “primary records specific to each peace or custodial officer's employment, including evaluations, assignments, status changes, and imposed discipline.” (Pen. Code, § 832.5, subd (d)(1).)

  • Hearing

    Jan 14, 2020

  • Type

    Employment

  • Sub Type

    Other Employment

ESTATE OF ZELALEM ESHETU EWNETU ET AL VS COUNTY OF LA ET AL

On October 4, 2019, the Court granted Plaintiffs’ motion for production of personnel and internal affairs files of the individual peace officer defendants (Pitchess motion).

  • Hearing

    Jan 10, 2020

  • Type

    Personal Injury/ Tort

  • Sub Type

    other

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