San Francisco prosecutors have put together a “trial integrity unit” in response to scandals involving the Police Department’s crime lab and the failure to disclose prior misconduct by officers called to testify in court.
The new unit, made of up senior prosecutors, will review cases impacted by former drug lab technician Deborah Madden, who is suspected of stealing cocaine from the lab and testified in hundreds of cases.
The unit will also look at cases involving police officers whose prior misconduct was not disclosed to defense attorneys when they were called as witnesses. The number of such cases has not been released to the public.
District Attorney Kamala Harris announced the unit’s formation on Tuesday. It is one of a series of reforms undertaken by Harris recently, including the development of a written policy to ensure that prosecutors have access to the backgrounds of law enforcement officers called to testify and that they notify defense attorneys as required by law.
The Police Department is developing a similar policy on sharing that information with prosecutors.
The district attorney’s office has said that as soon as it became aware of misconduct by law enforcement employees, it disclosed the information to defense attorneys.
Since the drug lab scandal was revealed in March, Police Chief George Gascon has ordered the lab closed and prosecutors have dismissed hundreds of cases.