In my most recent post, I noted that a law enforcement officer who is fired will sometimes have a right to a “name clearing hearing” at which the officer may supply evidence contradicting negative information about the officer’s honesty or integrity that the agency released in connection with the officer’s termination. I ended that post by asking whether an officer who is fired in connection with a Giglio letter is entitled to such a hearing. Under most circumstances, the answer to that question is no. Keep reading for more details.
Last November, I blogged about recommendations from the North Carolina Sheriffs’ Association for legislation that would enable hiring authorities, certifying commissions, and state prosecutors to learn of misconduct by officers, including untruthfulness, that would impair an officer’s credibility as a witness in a criminal prosecution and which must be disclosed to the defense. This type of information often is referred to as Giglio material, adopting the name of the first U.S. Supreme court case to apply a disclosure requirement to evidence relevant to impeaching a government witness, Giglio v. United States, 405 U.S. 150 (1972).
This session, the General Assembly enacted legislation implementing some of the Association’s recommendations. Among the changes enacted by S.L. 2021-137 (S 536) and S.L. 2021-138 (S 300) are requirements that the certifying commission for an officer be notified when the officer is informed that he or she may not be called to testify at trial based on bias, interest, or lack of credibility. If the officer transfers to a new agency, the Criminal Justice Standards Division (in the case of State, municipal, company, and campus officers) or the Justice Officers’ Standards Division (in the case of deputy sheriffs, detention officers, and telecommunicators) must notify the head of the new agency and the elected district attorney in the prosecutorial district where the agency is located that the person has been previously notified that the person may not be called to testify at trial.
Last week, the North Carolina Sheriff’s Association released a 31-page Report on Law Enforcement Professionalism recommending numerous law enforcement reforms. The report, created by a working group formed after the killing of George Floyd and the public outcry for policing reform that followed, is part of “an effort to create a law enforcement profession that will not tolerate racism and excessive force by law enforcement, and that will hold North Carolina law enforcement to a high standard.” (Report at 5.) Changes are recommended for officer certification and de-certification, training, agency accreditation, use of force policy and data collection, and recruiting and retention. The document, which, among other things, contains the most comprehensive description of the training and education requirements for law enforcement officers I’ve ever seen, is worth reading in its entirety. This post focuses only on one aspect of the report: recommendations that would enable hiring authorities, certifying commissions and state prosecutors to learn of misconduct by officers, including untruthfulness, that would impair the officer’s credibility as a witness in criminal prosecutions and which must be disclosed to the defense.
This post summarizes opinions issued by the Court of Appeals of North Carolina on May 5, 2020.
I’ve had a whole bunch of phone calls lately raising the same basic issue: suppose that a prosecutor is aware that an officer has been dishonest or has engaged in other misconduct in the past. Must the prosecutor disclose the officer’s dishonesty or misconduct to the defendant in a pending case in which the officer … Read more