Cal. Litig. 2020, Volume 33, Number 3

Obtaining Information from Law Enforcement Personnel Files: A Defense Attorney’s Perspective

By Timothy E. Warriner

Timothy E. Warriner, B.S., 1989, University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA); J.D., 1993, Santa Clara University School of Law. Mr. Warriner handles trial and appellate matters in state and federal court. He authors two chapters of CEB’s criminal law "bible"-—California Criminal Law: Procedure and Practice. He is a member of the Anthony M. Kennedy American Inn of Court, where he serves as an Attorney Master. Mr. Warriner is a former chair of the Criminal Law Section of the State Bar of California, and now sits as an Advisor to the California Lawyers Association Criminal Law Section. He is certified by the California Board of Legal Specialization of the State Bar of California as a criminal law specialist. His email address is:

I have a vivid recollection of the client. He limped into the jail interview room, wincing as he sat on the bench. His face was bruised and swollen. His version of the events stood in stark contrast to the officer’s account in the police report. Similar experiences are shared by most, if not all, seasoned defense attorneys. Defense attorneys have an important duty to investigate in circumstances suggesting law enforcement misconduct. This article addresses the legal means of getting records and information from law enforcement officers’ personnel files.

Confidentiality of Peace Officer Records

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