S.F. Cops' Criminal Pasts Could Overturn Convictions
|This kind of behavior needs to be reported to a defense attorney. In San Francisco, it hasn't been.|
The Chronicle, in an A-1, bomb-tossing corker of a story of the sort complainers bemoan the Chron can't do anymore, uncovers another disturbing scandal that may lead to convicts waltzing out of the jail -- and this one has to do with the convicts who put them there. It turns out, more than 80 San Francisco cops have criminal backgrounds or misconduct offenses the police department failed to disclose to prosecutors, who, in turn, failed to inform defense attorneys -- thus putting scads of criminal convictions in doubt.
"It will make the problems at the crime lab look like small potatoes," Public Defender Jeff Adachi promised the Chron.
The law stipulates that defense attorneys must be informed when any witness -- including police officers -- have been convicted of a bevy of criminal or misconduct charges. While other municipalities have come up with written rules regarding this situation with police and police experts, San Francisco has not, simply allowing the police to volunteer what information they saw fit.
This reliance on the police to police themselves already bit the DA's office in the rear on the Madden scandal. Now it has latched on to the other cheek; while the cops were at fault for not telling, the final responsibility was the DA's. And they weren't asking.