Custom Search

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

[CA] Unreported domestic violence of SFPD's Madden snowballed into scandal, change, and 100's of dropped cases

...Revelations that the department had failed to tell prosecutors about [now-resigned San Francisco Police Drug Lab Technician Deborah] Madden's criminal record for domestic violence led to an internal review of police files. That review ultimately determined that as many as 135 police officers had misconduct histories that might be subject to disclosure to defense attorneys if they were summoned to the stand... The department has since created a panel to review the histories of officers going back 30 years... Since the drug lab closure, prosecutors have been forced to drop hundreds of drug cases as testing is farmed out to outside labs...

...Without going into detail, San Francisco police Chief George Gascon said at a news conference Friday that there had been "acts of negligence by various" police officials who showed an "inability to see the signs that should have been detected much earlier... Some of that had to do with broken-down systems. Some of that had to do with people not paying attention to their jobs"... Gascón also said the department bungled by not telling prosecutors about Madden's previous conviction for domestic violence in San Mateo County...

SAN FRANCISCO POLICE FACE DEMOTION IN CRIME LAB SCANDAL
San Francisco Chronicle
Jaxon Van Derbeken, Chronicle Staff Writer
Friday, August 20, 2010
Several top San Francisco police officials - including at least one assistant chief - failed to act on early indications that a former lab technician had been skimming drug evidence and face demotion or misconduct charges, police sources say... Revelations that the department had failed to tell prosecutors about Madden's criminal record for domestic violence led to an internal review of police files. That review ultimately determined that as many as 135 police officers had misconduct histories that might be subject to disclosure to defense attorneys if they were summoned to the stand... Two of the officials who were told of suspicions surrounding Madden in December and failed to order a criminal probe for more than two months - Assistant Chief Kevin Cashman and Commander John Loftus - have both been demoted to their previous civil service ranks of captain... Another assistant chief who had a role in supervising the drug lab, Morris Tabak, is retiring next month from his post as chief of staff. Gascón would not say whether the demotions or Tabak's retirement had any connection to the crime lab debacle... [Full article here]

POLICE CHIEF ANNOUNCES REFORMS IN WAKE OF LAB SCANDAL
San Francisco Examiner
Bay City News
August 20, 2010
[Excerpts] San Francisco police Chief George Gascon announced today reforms aimed at correcting the flaws that led to a recent crime lab scandal, including new policies for releasing information about department employees with disciplinary histories to defense attorneys. "This has been sort of a long and painful road for the San Francisco Police Department," Gascon said at a news conference at police headquarters. "But we believe we have come to the conclusion of this process"... Still to be resolved, though, is the case against former Police Department criminalist Deborah Madden, whose alleged pilfering of drug evidence last year began the upheaval. Gascon said today that although his department has completed its investigation of Madden, a decision on whether to prosecute her in connection with the lab "has not been finalized" by the state Department of Justice and authorities in San Mateo County. Madden, 60, of San Mateo, already faces separate cocaine possession charges in that county... Since the drug lab closure, prosecutors have been forced to drop hundreds of drug cases as testing is farmed out to outside labs... [Gascon] said that prior to today's changes, internal administrative investigations were dealt with separately from internal criminal matters. "The two entities were reporting to different commands," he said, and communication between the two units was "often not as robust as it needed to be." The units will now come together under the umbrella of the newly named Internal Affairs division. [Full article here]

SFPD BRASS ALERTED TO CRIME LAB CASE DEMOTED
San Francisco Chronicle
Jaxon Van Derbeken
August 20, 2010
Saturday, August 21, 2010
[Excerpts] Several top San Francisco police officials - including at least one assistant chief - failed to act on early indications that a former lab technician had been skimming drug evidence and face demotion or misconduct charges... In March, Police Chief George Gascón ordered the drug lab shut... Without going into detail, the chief said at a news conference Friday that there had been "acts of negligence by various" police officials who showed an "inability to see the signs that should have been detected much earlier... Some of that had to do with broken-down systems. Some of that had to do with people not paying attention to their jobs"... Gascón also said the department bungled by not telling prosecutors about Madden's previous conviction for domestic violence in San Mateo County... "We can tell the public if we have a bad apple, we're going to deal with a bad apple and we're going to do so appropriately, and that we're going to create systems and we are going to hold people accountable to make sure acts like this do not recur."... At the news conference Friday, Gascón outlined a number of other measures implemented since the Madden scandal surfaced. He said the department has reorganized how it investigates misconduct allegations, creating an internal affairs unit that will also have an arm related to compliance with court orders surrounding officer misconduct. Revelations that the department had failed to tell prosecutors about Madden's criminal record for domestic violence led to an internal review of police files. That review ultimately determined that as many as 135 police officers had misconduct histories that might be subject to disclosure to defense attorneys if they were summoned to the stand... The department has since created a panel to review the histories of officers going back 30 years... So far, the panel has screened as many as 50 officers and found that prosecutors should be alerted to allegations of lying or other misconduct involving some of them... The names of those police officers with problematic backgrounds will automatically be given to prosecutors starting Monday. Prosecutors will then act to alert defense lawyers about the credibility issues involving those officers... [Full article here]

OFFICERS GIVEN NEW JOBS AFTER CRIME-LAB SCANDAL
San Francisco Examiner
By: Brent Begin
August 26, 2010
[Excerpts] A fresh batch of San Francisco police officers has been promoted to fill command-staff spots left vacant after high-ranking officers failed to rein in a growing scandal at the drug lab... [Full article here]

Earlier in the year:

LAB-TECH’S DISPUTE DETAILS SURFACE
San Francisco Examiner
By: Brent Begin
March 21, 2010
[Excerpts] A woman accused of taking cocaine from the San Francisco Police Department’s crime lab was convicted in 2008 for throwing a cordless phone at her domestic partner’s head in a breakup fight, according to a Belmont Police Department report.... The victim, who was not identified in the police report, suffered a cut to her forehead and police found blood on the floor of the home owned by the two women. The arrest and subsequent conviction have surfaced now that Madden is under investigation for stealing cocaine from the lab. Last week, police Chief George Gascón said the Police Department “made a mistake” by not disclosing the arrest to prosecutors or the defense bar, which is required by the court. The Public Defender’s Office has already drafted writs to overturn the convictions of drug offenders in cases where Madden testified, claiming her criminal past could have disqualified her testimony. Public Defender Jeff Adachi said keeping Madden’s criminal history within the SFPD amounts to a cover up, but Gascón claims it was just an error... The police report shows that Madden called Belmont police to the house the day before for a separate fight. The women had been hitting each other and drinking heavily, according to the report... Madden apparently tried to regain entry by hitting a door with what was believed to be a hammer... [Full article here]

Video:
San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi responds to a San Francisco Chronicle report


PUBLIC DEFENDER, D.A. SPAR ON COPS' TESTIMONY
The San Francisco Chronicle
Jaxon Van Derbeken, Chronicle Staff Writer
Wednesday, May 5, 2010
[Excerpts] San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi accused District Attorney Kamala Harris on Tuesday of "unethical" conduct for not having researched the backgrounds of police officers whose criminal and misconduct histories were unknown to the defense in cases in which they testified... The Chronicle reported Tuesday that more than 80 officers have convictions, arrests or disciplinary records that, by law, should have been revealed to defense attorneys, who could use the information to challenge their credibility as witnesses if they testified in trials... "For them to shield, essentially, police officers, who are often their star witnesses in these cases, is not only inexcusable but unethical," said Adachi... This is either a systematic failure, which would suggest gross malfeasance, or unethical behavior if they knew that these police witnesses had prior convictions"... He said he has sent a letter to Harris demanding the officers' names... Harris countered with her own news conference later Tuesday in which she said it was too early to determine how extensive the damage would be... "It's irresponsible to incite fear, especially when there is no credible information about the number of officers that are involved or the number of cases that are involved"... [Police Chief George Gascón] said that now that prosecutors have a policy, the Police Department is working on its own disclosure policy and it is a "top priority." He added, however, that before he could hand over a list of officers' names to the district attorney, the state Department of Justice must run checks on all 2,000 San Francisco police officers to see whether they have arrests or convictions... [Full article here]

Video:
Assistant District Attorney Brian Buckelew responds to a San Francisco Chronicle report


S.F. COPS' PASTS COULD JEOPARDIZE CONVICTIONS
The San Francisco Chronicle
Jaxon Van Derbeken
Tuesday, May 4, 2010
[Excerpts] More than 80 San Francisco police officers have criminal histories or misconduct records that the Police Department withheld and prosecutors did not disclose to defense attorneys in cases in which officers testified, a failure that could put hundreds of felony convictions in jeopardy... Police Chief George Gascón said he is "obviously concerned" about his department's failure to disclose the officers' histories. "I want to make sure the Police Department adheres to both its ethical and legal obligations"... Under the law, prosecutors are responsible for alerting defense attorneys when any witness, including a police officer, has been arrested or convicted for a broad range of crimes, or accused of misconduct for such disciplinary offenses as lying during internal affairs interviews. Police officers can keep their jobs even if they have been convicted of misdemeanors, but their histories must be disclosed so defense lawyers have the opportunity to discredit their testimony on the basis of their character... That has already proved problematic in the case of Deborah Madden, the retired civilian technician at the police crime lab suspected of skimming narcotics evidence. Madden was convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence in 2008 and went on to testify in an unknown number of criminal trials. Harris' office never ran a check on her record and did not tell defense attorneys about her conviction, and several lawyers whose clients were found guilty are now seeking to have those cases overturned... Federal prosecutors did ask the Police Department about Madden as part of a drug-racketeering murder case last year, according to U.S. Attorney Joseph Russoniello, but the department did not tell them about her criminal record... In mid-April, Judge Anne-Christine Massullo confronted Harris' prosecutors on the Madden issue and asked if the office had a written policy. Chief Assistant District Attorney Russ Giuntini then wrote a letter to Gascón saying a Police Department lawyer had revealed April 6 that there were more than 30 officers with criminal histories that would have to be disclosed... A subsequent, more comprehensive police review has so far turned up roughly 80 officers... The officers' names have not been released. Harris' office has yet to receive a complete list, so prosecutors have no idea how many of the officers have testified against people who eventually were convicted... [Full article here]
[police officer involved domestic violence credibility history hx accountability policy change coverup cover-up]

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please post updates or email them to behindthebluewall@gmail.com. No cop-hating or victim-hating comments allowed. Word verification had to be added due to spam attacks on this blog.