Wife-Beating Cops Can Keep it a Secret? Public Defender Not Pleased.

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Public Defender Jeff Adachi, pictured at a press conference last month
Public Defender Jeff Adachi said this afternoon that he has serious misgivings about District Attorney Kamala Harris' appointment of a private attorney to review which cases of police officers' criminal misconduct should be disclosed to defense lawyers.

San Francisco lawyer John Keker, who will be overseeing the disclosure process, told SF Weekly this afternoon that not all convictions would have to be revealed. "Things like drunk driving, domestic abuse, depending on the kind of case, they wouldn't be relevant, and they wouldn't need to be disclosed," he said. "A felony conviction is always relevant. A misdemeanor conviction is not always relevant ... there's some fuzziness around the edges."

Adachi disputed this view in a telephone interview, however, saying it underlines the need for an independent judge to review instances of police misconduct. "That's exactly what shouldn't happen," he said. "The issue here is that you need an independent judge to review the evidence on what should be disclosed ... It's not only what the prosecution's theory of the case is, it's what the defense's theory of the case is."

He added, "Here's the problem: Mr. Keker only has access to that which the district attorney wants him to see, and ultimately his recommendation is subject to the district attorney's veto."

Harris announced today that she has appointed Keker, the chief prosecutor in the famous 1988 Oliver North/Iran-Contra trial, to advise her office on which officers' criminal convictions should be disclosed to defense attorneys. The San Francisco Chronicle reported earlier this month that more than 80 police officers who have served as witnessed in trials have criminal backgrounds, prompting the possibility that convictions based on their testimony could now be overturned.
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