San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris announced today that noted trial lawyer John Keker will advise her office on the impact possible police misconduct cases may have on appeals of convictions.
The issue arose out of reports last week that dozens of San Francisco police officers may have criminal or disciplinary backgrounds that were not revealed to defense attorneys.
By law, prosecutors are required to disclose the criminal backgrounds of witnesses, including police officers or civilian department workers, to the defense. That information can be used to call into question the truthfulness of an officer’s testimony.
The district attorney’s office confirmed that it had received a letter in April from the Police Department that the backgrounds of more than 30 officers may have needed to be released.
Harris said today in a prepared statement that Keker, a private criminal defense attorney in San Francisco and former president of the San Francisco Police Commission, would help to assess “any potential impact future disclosures from the San Francisco Police Department about the misconduct and criminal history of San Francisco Police Department personnel may have on the cases which have already been adjudicated.”
Harris said Keker “has unimpeachable judgment and independence.”
In the same statement, Keker said Harris “has put the right system in place to deal with the forthcoming disclosures of police misconduct from the Police Department.”
Police Department spokeswoman Lt. Lyn Tomioka said today the total number of officers was not yet known.
Responding to a media report last week that the number may have grown to more than 80 officers, Public Defender Jeff Adachi said that hundreds of criminal convictions could potentially be overturned.
“With the information that we currently have, that’s not a verifiable number,” district attorney’s office spokeswoman Erica Derryck said today.
Derryck said her office was still waiting for the Police Department review of its officers to be completed.
“And until we have that, everybody is just speculating,” Derryck said.