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Problem with police witnesses who may not be credible

The credibility of a number of police officers in Seattle has been put to question and this has resulted in many of them being relieved of their duties.  One major concern was the failure of certain officers to not provide evidence that could have proved exculpatory to individuals charged with crimes.

The U.S. Supreme Court long ago ruled that exculpatory evidence cannot be hidden.  This can include information concerning possible credibility problems with certain police officers appearing as witnesses.  Not providing this evidence can in certain circumstances lead to a reversal or even dismissal of a case.

The police officers on this listing are referred to as "Brady cops" - Brady referring to the name of the Supreme Court case.  A case management database is to alert prosecuting attorneys of the names of officers on this list should these police officers be listed as witnesses to a particular case.  Still, certain prosecutors continue to fight to keep the names on these listings secret.

Obviously questions about the credibility of a police witness could make prosecution of a criminal matter more difficult.  For example, the credibility of certain police officers arose during a murder case last year.  There is still debate as to whether jury members can be told about misconduct involving two fired deputies who played an important role in investigating the matter.

It has been reported that 10 of the 43 officers on the list are still performing law enforcement duties in the area.  There are also officers accused of misconduct that have not been listed.

It's important for Washington criminal defense attorneys to be allowed to examine and even criticize testimony or evidence that may be brought against their client.  However, it takes experience to be able to look at the evidence objectively and know how to handle such matters in court.

Source: Herald Net, "43 names on list of cops flagged because of credibility questions," Scott North, Diana Hefley and Rikki King, March 2, 2014

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