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Jane Doe v. City of San Diego

United States District Court, Ninth Circuit

December 13, 2013

JANE DOE, Plaintiff,
THE CITY OF SAN DIEGO, et al., Defendants.

DISCOVERY ORDER [ECF Nos. 174, 180, 186]

DAVID H. BARTICK, Magistrate Judge.

The following discovery matters are currently pending before the Court: (1) whether Defendant City of San Diego should be required to produce to Plaintiff Jane Doe any of the documents submitted to the Court for in camera review pursuant to the Court's October 25, 2013 Order (ECF No. 162); (2) Plaintiff's request for oral argument concerning her document request numbers 177 and 186 (ECF Nos. 174, 190); (3) the parties' joint motion for determination of discovery dispute concerning the deposition of San Diego Police Department ("SDPD") Detective Stacee Botsford (ECF Nos. 180, 186); and (4) the parties' dispute concerning the number of Plaintiff's remaining depositions (ECF Nos. 173, 177). Having reviewed the parties' various briefs, the documents submitted by the City for in camera review, and the relevant law, the Court issues this Order to resolve these remaining discovery issues.

1. Document Production Following In Camera Review

In response to the Court's October 25, 2013 Order, the City lodged documents identified by the following Bates numbers:

(a) BLACKFORD00001 through BLACKFORD01726;
(b) 12-175.IA001 through 12-175.IA420;
(c) 12-176.IA001 through 12-176.IA1172;
(d) TAITANO001 through TAITANO334;
(e) SINCLAIR001 through SINCLAIR247;
(f) BORGES001 through BORGES157;
(g) 0001 through 00646 (contained in a redwell folder); and
(g) TAI-424.

In addition, the City lodged nine compact discs. Three of the discs contain files pertaining to the Blackford investigation, while the remaining six discs contain files relating to a March 2013 firearm incident in Escondido, California that is more fully discussed below.

a. Blackford Investigation Documents

The majority of the documents lodged by the City relate to the City's investigation into a December 2012 DUI crash involving SDPD Detective Jeffrey Blackford and subsequent efforts by other SDPD employees to cover up Detective Blackford's criminal conduct.[1] As the Court recognized in its October 25, 2013 Order, documents pertaining to this incident and investigation are relevant to Plaintiff's claim that a policy or custom exists within the SDPD by which officers are encouraged to engage in illegal conduct without risk of punishment because their fellow officers will help cover up the misconduct, thereby protecting the offending officers from punishment or criminal exposure. ( See ECF No. 162 at 6:11-7:1.) However, the Court ordered an in camera review of the responsive documents in light of the potential that the City's internal investigation remained ongoing. The Court's concern over an ongoing investigation has been quelled upon its review of the Blackford investigation files, which indicate that the City's internal investigation has been completed. Accordingly, the Court finds it appropriate for the City to produce the following documents:

(a) BLACKFORD001 through BLACKFORD00413;
(b) BLACKFORD00415 through BLACKFORD00707;
(c) BLACKFORD00713 through BLACKFORD00932;
(d) BLACKFORD00940 through BLACKFORD00962;
(e) BLACKFORD01007;
(f) BLACKFORD01012 through BLACKFORD01054;
(g) BLACKFORD01077 through BLACKFORD01114;
(h) BLACKFORD01133 through BLACKFORD01436;
(i) BLACKFORD01520 through BLACKFORD01623;
(j) BLACKFORD01696 through BLACKFORD01714;
(k) BLACKFORD01725 through BLACKFORD01726; and
(l) 12-176.IA777 through 12-176.IA782.

The Court refrains from ordering production of the Blackford investigation files in their entirety because many of the documents contain unnecessary gang unit officer schedules and contact information, accident scene photographs and aerial maps, and other supporting investigatory documents that the Court finds inappropriate for production. Moreover, many of the "BLACKFORD" documents, and all but six pages of the "12-175.IA" and "12-175.IA" documents are duplicative of documents the Court is ordering the City to produce. Additionally, the Court finds that the information contained on the three compact discs pertaining to the Blackford investigation shall not be produced. The information is either duplicative of documents contained in the hard copy files or irrelevant to Plaintiff's claims.

b. Taitano, Sinclar and Borges Documents

The Court has reviewed the personnel files of William Taitano, Omar Sinclar, and Anthony Borges, each of which contain evidence that these police officers engaged in misconduct that was sexual in nature. However, upon review of the documents, the Court believes that the relevancy of the information is outweighed by the need to protect the privacy of non-parties. Importantly, none of these files contain any evidence suggesting that the incidents of misconduct were not properly investigated or that the misconduct was condoned by the police department in any way. To the contrary, the documents demonstrate the SDPD properly responded to reports of misconduct and that the City's polices relating to discipline and/or termination were properly enforced. Moreover, there is no evidence that any of the offending officers engaged in the misconduct due to an actual or perceived culture within the SDPD that encouraged officers to violate the law or the constitutional rights of others under the belief their actions would remain immune from punishment. For these reasons, the Court will not order the City to produce the documents labeled TAITANO001 through TAITANO334, SINCLAIR001 through SINCLAIR247, or BORGES001 through BORGES157.

The Court also takes this opportunity to clarify its May 28, 2013 Order Following In Camera Review of Documents. (ECF No. 111.) In that order, the Court ordered that the City not disclose any portion of the files of Officers Art Perea, Daniel Dana, Thomas Broxterman, James Zirpolo, and Gib Ninness. ( Id. at 2:23-24.) To the extent any of those files contained evidence of officers' sexual misconduct, [2] production was not ordered based on the same reasoning set forth in the preceding paragraph. As discussed more fully below, the Court rejects the City's current position that the Court previously determined that the Daniel Dana incident is completely irrelevant to this ...

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