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Nuts and Bolts / Cops and Robbers

Gigi Gordon, Directing Attorney

Post Conviction Assistance Center

Los Angeles, CA




Rules of the Road


1)   Learn how to use a computer or find someone who does.


2)   Know more than the other guy.


3)   Know more than the witness about the witness


4)   All witnesses should be treated equal

a.    Cops, robbers, experts, gang members, etc


5)   Let them know that you know.


6)    Information is power, flex your muscles





1) Newspaper Articles and periodicals


Names: Run name searches

-         Example:

o       Experts: Dr. James Ribe, Dr. Wetli

o       Cops: Mark Arneson

o       Witness: Harold Hall

o       Informant: Leslie White


Subject Matters

-         Examples: Jailhouse informant & Los Angeles

o       DNA and rock and spit

o       Cocaine and stolen

o       Carotid choke hold

o       DNA and Fingernails


Local, Statewide, and National

-         Many Newspapers online

o       Check earliest date

-         Archives and Microfiche

-         Lexis

-         Westlaw

-         Google

-         Other Internet sources

-         Pitchess information

-         Discovery Motion Information

-         SDT Information


Use Newspaper information and follow-up.

-         Call or email the reporter who wrote the story

-         Contact counsel, the plaintiff, defendant, or witness


Periodicals / Magazines / Papers

-         Medline

-         Medical Periodicals

-         Forensic Journals

-         Independent Forensic Websites


-         Police Agency Websites

-         Law Enforcement and Union Periodicals. Magazines, and Newspapers.

-         CLARA

-         NACDL


2) Full Text Searches of Criminal and Civil Cases via Legal Research Tools


Research Tools

-         State, Federal, out-of-state

-         Repeat the same process

o       Name or subject matter

-         Criminal Cases

-         Cops-Search and Seizure

-         Misconduct

-         Confessions

-         Conditional pitchess reversals

-         Pitchess Reversals

-         Convictions – yes, convictions!

-         Experts

o       Example: DNA and Fingernail

-         Experts

o       Example: Gang Experts

-         Snitches

o       Name

o       Type

o       Motive to testify

o       Prior testimony

o       Out of country, out of state

o       Federal benefits

o       Convictions


-         Prosecutors

o       Might as well check for prior instances of misconduct

§         Harmless or not

o       Wheeler Claims

o       Etc


-         Full text of Civil Cases

o       Not usually a great resource but could get something regarding an expert or civil suit regarding police officers


II. Building the Biography

(Other resources available without leaving your office)


Vast amounts of information are available to you without leaving your office.


Most Sources are free, some cost a nominal amount, and others are pay as you go


1) Civil Litigation

-         Indexes and Public Information

-         Computerized legal research tools

-         Autotrack

o       Lawsuits, insurance info, DMV info, People finding, Licensing, property, etc

-         PACER

o       Federal system

o       Call district court for signup

-         Los Angles Civil Search Engine (Web-based)

-         Courthouse and Archives

-         Microfiche

-         Los Angeles County Bar Association

o       Member ship

-         Daily Journal

-         Court of Appeal Website

o       Name Searches

o       Criminal / Civil

§        Note: In civil cases, names of defendants are sometimes added later in amendments to Doe pleadings

-         Community-based Organizations

o       Police Watch Departmental Websites


2) Other Civil Type Cases and Information You wouldn’t Normally think of…


-         Personal Injury

o       Paulette De Los Reyes

§        Pitchess Car Accidents

-         Workers Comp

o       Officer Palomares

§        Shot on duty

-         Writs of Mandate to Superior Court re: Discipline Issues

-         Sexual Harassment Claims

-         Wrongful Termination Claims

-         Suits by Cops against their own departments

-         Suits by Unions against their departments

-         Consent Decree Cases

-         Class actions on Conditions or Policies


3) Once you find the Case Number…


1)   Go look at the file

2)   Call the Lawyer

3)   Depositions taken by municipalities are public record

4)   Call the Court reporter and pay the freight

5)   Talk to the parties

6)   Use what you get

a.    Pitchess, Discovery, Motion, SDT, etc


4) Gigi’s Favorites / Why I like to talk to the Wife


-         Divorce Files

-         Bankruptcy Files

-         Criminal Files too

-         Privilege Logs in Federal Civil Rights Cases

-         Restraining Orders

-         Domestic Violence

-         Character Evidence and Pitchess

o       Or “how to get a witness really mad at you.”

-         Divorce Files

o       Credibility

o       Lying


-         Snitches

o       How the guy isn’t so nice after all.

o       How his motive for testifying isn’t really what he says it is

o       How he really isn’t a ___________.

o       Other scams

o       Trail of tears

o       Etc.


-         Background Information

o       When service is an issue, when you can’t get other information on background.


-         Money

o       Always interesting…


-         Bankruptcy Files

o       Federal Court

§        Relevant in cases involving

·        Corruption

·        Criminal activity

·        Outside occupations without departmental permission

·        Other strange occurrences.


-         Creditors

o       Bad checks

o       Debts

o       Paper trails


-         Police Departments do not routinely monitor the spending habits of their personnel.


-         LAPD Report on Rampart Scandal noted convicted cops, adult and juvenile, multiple pre-hiring bankruptcies going to character and life management issues.


-         Privilege Logs in Federal Civil Rights Cases

o       Pitchess is routinely ignored in Federal Court privilege logs.


5) Juvenile Files

-         Petition pursuant to WI and C 827

o       (Name and DOB and declaration)

o       (Impeachment)

-         All wits are equal

-         LAPD application and Board of Inquiry Report

-         YA files

o       Petition to Juvenile Court

§        Mental health

§        Write-ups

§        Visitors

§        Counselors

§        Crimes in custody


III. Criminal Files / You Need to Leave your Office

-         TCIS (Los Angeles)

-         Microfiche

-         Other counties and States

o       Online as well

-         Federal – PACER


-         Prelim Transcripts

-         Probation Reports

o       Unseal per 1203.5

-         Bills

o       How to trap a rat

o       How to prove IAC

-         Make your own rap sheet

-         Docket Sheets

-         Motion to Modify Sentence

-         1203.4 and Cops

-         Ex Parte Apps

o       Money – relocation and the rat

-         Money and the Expert

-         Sealed Stuff

-         The In/Out Order

-         Science for Dummies


IV. So now What? You are NOT done yet…


Other stuff that’s out there by using your keyboard


1)   DA websites

a.    Policies, kudos, press releases

2)   Departmental Websites

a.    Photos

b.   Chain of command

c.    Staffing

d.   Budget

e.   Equipment

f.    Forensics

g.   Victories

h.   Manuals

i.      Policies

3)   Cities and Municipalities (State Agency Websites)

a.    Rewards

b.   Grants

c.    Civil Litigation Reports

d.   Budget

e.   DOJ Protocols

                                                            i.      Lab

                                                         ii.      Victim

                                                      iii.      Rape SART

f.    Statistics

g.   Forensic Issues

4)   Science and Other Expert Stuff

a.    University Websites

b.   University Libraries

c.    Professor or Expert Websites

d.   Forensic Websites and Links


V. Public Record Act Information and Other Stuff


1)   How to do it

a.    Look up government code 6250 Et Seq

                                                            i.      This is California’s version of the Freedom of information Act (FOIA)

b.   Write Letter – 2 sentences

                                                            i.      “This is a request pursuant to the Public Records Act… Pursuant to the PRA, I am also requesting a copy of your agency or whatever… policy on public records access.”

                                                         ii.      Make it simple

                                                      iii.      Dumb it down

                                                       iv.      One thing at a time

                                                          v.      Don’t give them an out

1.   Example: LAPD Board of Rights

2.   Calendar Example: Victim Witness Assistance Program

                                                       vi.      Be prepared to sue

                                                    vii.      Always give the an extension

1.   After all, you’re the reasonable guy

                                                 viii.      Threaten to sue

                                                        ix.      Sue

                                                           x.      You get fees


2)   Everything is Public Record unless there is an exception

a.    There are lots of exceptions

                                                            i.      Most exceptions are law enforcement related

                                                         ii.      In the absence of express exception or a case – whatever you want is public

                                                      iii.      There is some case law in this area

                                                       iv.      Most people you deal with won’t know the rules

                                                          v.      Monetary expenditures are almost always Public Record


3)   Follow the Money

a.    Don’t forget the 1099’s


4)   What is Public Record?

a.    Some Sexy Examples

                                                            i.      Deposition Transcripts

1.   Taken in governmental lawsuits are public record

                                                         ii.      910 Claims

1.   City clerk

2.   City Agency

3.   State Agency

                                                      iii.      Settlements

1.   Unless sealed but maybe even then

                                                       iv.      Board of Rights Hearings

1.    LAPD

2.   Comparable Administrative Proceedings

                                                          v.      Training Manuals

1.   Personal Manuals

2.   Department Manuals

                                                       vi.      Brown Act

1.   Agendas

2.   Text of Governmental hearings

3.   Text of city council comments

4.   Rewards

5.   Rampart Example

                                                    vii.      Money Expenditures

1.   Experts

2.   Snitches

3.   Funds – Secret Service Fund.

4.   Audit of LAPD Evidence Room Protocols

                                                 viii.      DA Rejects some counties

1.   Cops

2.   Informants

                                                        ix.      OIS Reports not privileged


VI. Birth, Marriage, Death Records and Social Security Numbers


Note: Recently I have started to request copies of birth certificates on gang member witnesses. Result: in a number of cases the person is not who they said they were. The “rap sheet run” is only as good as the identifying information going on. Since the cops don’t ask the witnesses for ID’s (or the witnesses don’t give them to cops) I have a numerous cases where the DOB and name on witness statements and testimony doesn’t come back to a real person.


Get a birth certificate and get the witness to testify as to his or her true name, date of birth, and where they were born. Ask for CDL or Cal ID information.