At its monthly meeting Tuesday, the Civilian Oversight Commission for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department unanimously approved a motion recommending the sheriff turn over the Brady List of deputy misconduct to the panel.
At the meeting, there was also an update on the department’s compliance with the Prison Rape Elimination Act, or PREA.
Brady List of Deputy Misconduct
The L.A. County Sheriff’s Department created a Brady list of 300 deputies whose personnel files allegedly contain findings of serious misconduct that may impeach their credibility as prosecution witnesses at trial. The Commission unanimously approved the Resolution strongly recommending Sheriff Alex Villanueva (pictured above) should give the Brady list to the L.A County District Attorney’s Office.
“We want that list to be turned over to the District Attorney now so that wrongful convictions and Brady violations don’t occur, or at least we do everything we can within our power to stop them as soon as we can,” said Commissioner Sean Kennedy, Executive Director of Center for Juvenile Law & Policy at Loyola Law School and former federal public defender.
The resolution outlines that Brady violations are one of the leading causes of wrongful convictions and threaten the integrity of L.A. County’s criminal justice system. These violations also have resulted in the county paying many multi-million dollar settlements to exonerees in connection with their wrongful convictions.
“There are deputies on that list whose testimony is never going to be believed by a jury, it’s that serious, and that person should not be a deputy sheriff,” said Commissioner Robert Bonner, attorney and former U.S. Attorney and DEA Administrator. “This also goes to the state of the discipline system in the Sheriff’s Department as well.”
The legal battle over deputy misconduct began in November 2016, when the deputies’ union went to court to prevent then-Sheriff McDonnell from turning over the list of officer misconduct to the District Attorney. The Commission supported then-Sheriff McDonnell in this March 23, 2017 resolution. The Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs vs. Superior Court was argued on June 5, 2019, and the court’s opinion was published August 26, 2019.
“Law enforcement personnel are required to share Brady material with the prosecution,” wrote Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye for the entire court. “The harder it is for the prosecution to access the material, the greater the need for the deputies to produce it.”
Compliance with the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA)
Representatives from the PREA Implementation Team provided an update on compliance efforts. Deputy County Counsel Tyson B. Nelson explained that PREA is a federal law mandating zero tolerance of sexual abuse and harassment while incarcerated.
The Department of Justice issued PREA Standards in 2012, and the Sheriff directed that the Century Regional Detention Facility be audit-ready by December 2019. Nelson reviewed the standards that impact the Sheriff’s Department and explained of the 199 provisions specific to CRDF; 104 are audit-ready, 74 are in-progress and 21 are non-compliant.
Assistant Division Director Karen S. Dalton, Sheriff’s Department PREA Coordinator, provided an overview of the complexities of PREA standards departmentwide, which include items such as hiring and promotion practices, investigations at the administrative and criminal level and contract language, data collection and retention.
“Thank you [to the PREA Implementation Team] for your amazing dedication to creating a sexually safe environment and facilities,” said Patti Giggans, L.A. County Civilian Oversight Commission Chair and Executive Director of Peace Over Violence. “I also want to extend to our appreciation to Sheriff Villanueva on his support for all these efforts that are continuing,”
To view the full PREA presentation, click here.
To listen to the audio recording of the full meeting, click here.