Since the indictment of Phoenix Police Officer Richard Chrisman on a second degree murder charge in the slaying of south Phoenix resident Daniel Rodriguez, there's been much speculation about the so-called "Brady list" that he and hundreds of other Valley cops are on.
The list is named for the 1963 U.S. Supreme Court case Brady vs. Maryland, which found that a defendant's right to due process is violated if a prosecutor withholds certain exculpatory evidence from the accused's lawyer.
Supposedly, "Brady cops" have been caught doing something that calls into question their honesty. In Chrisman's case, that was planting a crack pipe on a mentally handicapped homeless woman, a 2005 incident caught on surveillance footage.
"It can include lying or incomplete reports or being caught in something else that would reflect on their integrity," explained county attorney spokesman Bill Fitzgerald. "It's an integrity issue."
Fitzgerald stated that sometimes the incidents are serious, and in some cases, not so much, like, say, fibbing on a time sheet. As a result, the officer may not be in danger of being terminated or losing his or her certification.
I recently obtained a copy of the Maricopa County Attorney's Brady list, otherwise known as the "Law Enforcement Integrity Database." You can eyeball it, here.
There are a total of 482 names on the list, including one from the FBI, and one from Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
From the Phoenix Police Department, there are 254 officers listed. But that's a little misleading as 95 -- or more than a third of the cops on the list -- are no longer with the PPD, having resigned, retired, or been terminated from their positions.
Also, the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office only lists 12 Brady cops, which seems highly suspicious considering the nature of the MCSO. The paucity of MCSO names by comparison to the Phoenix PD leads me to suspect that the PPD is far more conscientious about reporting Brady cops.
The incidents that got these law enforcement officers on the list stretch back decades. According to Fitzgerald, the list is updated periodically, and there will be three or four names added by the end of October.
Fitzgerald says that the law enforcement agencies make suggestions to the county attorney regarding the Brady list, but it's the county attorney's office that has the final call as to who's on it.
Ironically, the list includes Commander Jeffeory Hynes, the head of the PPD's Professional Standards Bureau, which does the PPD's internal investigations. PPD PIO Tommy Thompson confirmed that the badge number listed for Hynes on the Brady list does in fact belong to the commander.
The incident involving Hynes happened in 1994. The list doesn't go into details, but the county attorney has files on all of these LEOs, and I'll be poking around in them to see what I can see.
In the past, there have been charges of retaliation against officers in regards to the Brady list.
For example, in the case of Chandler police Sgt. Tom Lovejoy, even though former County Attorney Andrew Thomas failed to secure an animal cruelty conviction against the sergeant, Thomas considered putting Lovejoy on the Brady list. Ultimately, this did not happen, and Lovejoy's name is not currently in the database.
And in 2003, New Times scribe Patti Epler wrote a piece accusing the county attorney's office of using the Brady list to retaliate against two Valley cops, Sgt. Jim Cope of the PPD, and Sgt. Dale Walters of the Chandler Police Department.
So, I think we have to take the list with a grain of salt until we know more about the incidents that landed these officers on it.
Chrisman's deal was pretty egregious. But there's no way to know how the foibles of these other LEOs compare until I can review the files one by one. And that may take a minute, as Fitzgerald tells me that the MCAO has to go through them and redact certain info before they are released.
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