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Vol. 41 No. 2 March / April 2012
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Highlights of This Issue

Special Bulletin

  • Disclosure of Police Officers’ Names: Public Records Law

United States Supreme Court Action

  • Questioning Prison Inmate Was Not Miranda Custody
  • No Police Liability for Improper Search Warrant Where Police Seek Approval of Supervisor, Prosecutor and Issuing Magistrate
  • No Police Liability for Warrantless Home Entry to Investigate School Shooting Threat; Qualified Immunity

Federal and State Decisions

  • Arrest, Search and Seizure Issues: warrantless arrest; probable cause; search of vehicle; warrantless search; abandonment; computer hard drive; ice shanty; exigent circumstances; search incident to arrest; reasonableness; strip search; rectum search; stop and frisk; reasonable suspicion; report of a weapon; traffic stop; officer’s motivation; fruit of the poisonous tree; right to privacy; email and text messages; investigative subpoena; consent; voluntariness, scope; groin area
  • Interrogation Issues: Miranda; custody; parole officer’s office; prison setting; jailhouse lawyer; independent criminal act; interrogation; functional equivalent; what constitutes; conversation between officers; invocation of right to remain silent; “I can’t go on . . .”; examination by state psychiatric expert; adequacy of waiver; nod of head; selective answers; attempt to cut a deal; selective silence; adoptive admissions; officer’s testimony; voluntariness; taint of improper search; attenuation
  • Crimes; Evidence; Trial Procedure: police defendant; robbing drug dealers; falsification of reports; DUI; non-consensual blood tests; exigency requirement; identification evidence; stationhouse showups; trial testimony of first responders; automated red light cameras
  • Civil Liability/Personnel Law: use of dogs in arrests; unnecessary violence; deadly force; traffic stops; “suicide by cop”; failure to perform life-saving functions; deliberately inducing false identifications; qualified immunity; political speech; policymaker issue; police discipline; investigation; use of GPS tracking device


    Special Bulletin
    United States Supreme Court
    Federal and State Decisions
    2012 Renewal Form: Email Option

Special Bulletin

Special Bulletin: Special Bulletin: Public Disclosure of Names of Police Officers: Balancing of Interests; Public Records Law
Long Beach Police Officers Assn v. City of Long Beach, No. B231245 (Cal.App.4th 2010).

A police association sought an injunction that would prevent disclosure of police officers’ names under a public records act who were involved in a specific police shooting incident, as well as the names of all officers involved in similar events over the past five years. The court ruled there was no countervailing interest in not disclosing the names.

“An officer’s privacy interest in maintaining the confidentiality of his or her name does not outweigh the public’s interest in disclosure. Recognizing that individuals have a privacy interest in controlling the disclosure of personal information, the POST Court declined to characterize ‘the fact of an individual’s public employment, however, as a personal matter.’ (POST, supra, 42 Cal.4th at p. 300.) POST continued: ‘We find no well-established social norm that recognizes a need to protect the identity of all peace officers. Peace officers operate in the public realm on a daily basis, and identify themselves to the members of the public with whom they deal. Indeed, uniformed peace officers are required to wear a badge or nameplate with the officer’s name or identification number. [Citation.]’ (Id. at p. 301; accord, New York Times, supra, 52 Cal.App.4th at p. 104 [‘the public interest here outweighs the right of the deputies to have their names withheld’]; 91 Ops.Cal.Atty.Gen. at *4 [the public has a ‘legitimate interest in the identity and conduct of peace officers’ that is substantial and ‘both diminishes and counterbalances’ any expectation that a peace officer may have that his or her identity will ordinarily be kept confidential,’ fn. omitted].)

Nonetheless, in certain circumstances protecting the anonymity of a peace officer may outweigh the public interest in disclosure. (International Federation, supra, 42 Cal.4th at p. 337.) For example, an undercover officer might be able to show that the release of his or her identity would threaten the officer’s safety and effectiveness. (POST, supra, 42 Cal.4th at p. 303; see also International Federation, supra, at p. 337 [‘If an officer’s anonymity is essential to his or her safety, the need to protect the officer would outweigh the public interest in disclosure and would justify withholding the {Slip Opn. Page 23} officer’s name’].) In accordance with this authority, the trial court denied appellants’ preliminary injunction request without prejudice and permitted either the LBPOA or the City to make an evidentiary showing that the disclosure of a particular officer’s identity would jeopardize that officer’s safety or efficacy.”

“The trial court appropriately characterized this evidence as establishing nothing ‘beyond the generalized and speculative invocation of fear that someone, somewhere—for example, a family member of a shooting victim—may ultimately use names that are disclosed as stepping stones to find the officers and hurt them or their families.’ . . .”

“Given the legitimate public interest in the conduct of individual officers . . . appellants’ failure to offer any countervailing public interest in the nondisclosure of the names of officers involved in shootings precludes the application of [a statutory non-disclosure provision].”


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