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Stephen Tillotson v. Bonnie Dumanis

February 28, 2012

STEPHEN TILLOTSON,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
BONNIE DUMANIS, INDIVIDUALLY AND IN HER OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS DISTRICT ATTORNEY FOR THE COUNTY OF SAN DIEGO; COUNTY OF SAN DIEGO, A MUNICIPAL CORPORATION, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hayes, Judge:

ORDER

The matters before the Court are the Motion for Summary Judgment filed by Defendants Bonnie Dumanis and the County of San Diego (ECF No. 31) and the Motion for Summary Judgment filed by Plaintiff Stephen Tillotson (ECF No. 32).

I. Background

On June 25, 2010, Plaintiff Stephen Tillotson filed a Complaint (ECF No. 1) and on August 9, 2010, Plaintiff filed a First Amended Complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C § 1983. (ECF No. 10). The First Amended Complaint alleges that Defendants violated Plaintiff's Constitutional right to procedural and substantive due process*fn1 by placing Plaintiff on the San Diego County Brady*fn2 Index and seeks injunctive relief and damages.

On August 23, 2010, Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss. (ECF No. 13). On November 8, 2010, this Court granted in part the Motion to Dismiss and dismissed Plaintiff's substantive due process claim and request for damages. (ECF No. 16). On December 15, 2010, Defendants filed an Answer. (ECF No. 17).

On October 27, 2011, Defendants filed a Motion for Summary Judgment. (ECF No. 31). Plaintiff filed an Opposition. (ECF No. 36). Defendants filed a Reply. (ECF No. 38). On November 14, 2011, Plaintiff filed a Motion for Summary Judgment. (ECF No. 32).

Defendants filed an Opposition. (ECF No. 37). Plaintiff filed a Reply. (ECF No. 39).

II. Undisputed Material Facts

In 1998, Plaintiff was employed as a law enforcement officer by the San Diego County Sheriff's Department. (Tillotson Decl., ECF No. 32-2 at 108). Plaintiff's supervisor required Plaintiff to participate in periodic firearm qualification shooting exercises. (Tillotson Depo., ECF No. 31-5 at 21). In June 1998, Plaintiff told his supervisor that he attended a qualification shoot that he did not actually attend. Id. at 20. Plaintiff gave his supervisor a certification card from a prior shooting exercise as documentation that he had attended the most recent qualification shoot. Id. at 22. Within the next 24 to 48 hours, Plaintiff told his supervisor that he had "made a big mistake" and had "lied to him about [attending the qualification shoot] and [that Plaintiff] felt bad about it." Id. In December 1998, Plaintiff was fired for the incident of dishonesty to his supervisor and presenting the prior shooting certification card as documentation that he had attended the most recent qualification shoot. Id. at 25.

In June 2000, Plaintiff was hired by the Sycuan Tribal Police Department after fully disclosing the prior incident of dishonesty. (Tillotson Decl., ECF No. 32-2 at 108).

In the fall of 2008, Plaintiff applied to work as a Volunteer Reserve Police Officer for the Coronado Police Department. Id. at 109. Plaintiff disclosed the prior incident of dishonesty. Id. The City of Coronado Police Department contacted the San Diego District Attorney's Office to review Plaintiff's prior incident of dishonesty and determine whether it required that Plaintiff be included on the Brady Index. Id.

Deputy District Attorney David Williams is the Brady Index coordinator for the San Diego District Attorney's Office. (ECF No. 31-3 at 1). Williams states that the San Diego District Attorney's Office maintains a Brady Index "so that [the San Diego County District Attorney's Office] can notify prosecutors when there is information about an officer that should be reviewed for potential discovery when the officer is a witness on a prosecution case." (Williams Depo., ECF No. 32-1 at 39-40). In Brady, the United States Supreme Court held that "suppression by the prosecution of evidence favorable to an accused upon request violates due process where the evidence is material either to guilt or to punishment, irrespective of the good faith or bad faith of the prosecution." Brady, 373 U.S. at 87. In United States v. Agurs, 427 U.S. 97 (1976), the Supreme Court held that the prosecution has the duty to turn over material evidence favorable to the accused, even when the accused has not asked for such evidence. Agurs, 427 U.S. at 106. In United States v. Bagley, 473 U.S. 667 (1985), the Supreme Court held that a prosecutor also has a duty to disclose information that a criminal defendant may use to impeach a government witness. Bagley, 473 U.S. at 676. In Giglio v. United States, 405 U.S. 150 (1971), the Supreme Court held that, whether nondisclosure of Brady information is a result of negligence or is intentional, it is the responsibility of the prosecutor to ensure that there is communication of all relevant information on each case. Giglio, 405 U.S. at 154-55.

The San Diego County District Attorney's Office maintains three documents regarding its Brady policy including: the Brady File Review Protocol, the San Diego County District Attorney Brady Index FAQs, and the Legal Policies Guide. (Ex. to Williams Depo., ECF No. 31-5 at 78-83; ECF No. 32-1 at 155-157; Ex. to Gaspard Decl., ECF No. 32-2 at 2-4). In an answer to an interrogatory which asked whether the San Diego County Brady documents articulate a standard for when law enforcement officers should be placed on the San Diego Count Brady Index, Defendant Dumanis responded, "No. The factors to be considered for inclusion in the San Diego District Attorney's Brady Index are articulated in Brady v. Maryland and its progeny." (Dumanis Interrogatories, ECF No. 32-1 at 30-31).

The San Diego District Attorney has delegated the authority to make decisions regarding whether someone should be placed on the Brady Index to a committee of senior deputy district attorneys. (Williams Depo., ECF No. 31-5 at 62). A member of the Brady committee acts as a "gatekeeper" which is a "specific term of art [used by Defendant] for a member of the Brady committee who ...


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