Vol. 15 No. 1- Re: Pitchess Motions

January 24, 2000

To: All Police Chiefs and Sheriffs

From: J. Scott Tiedemann


We write to draw your attention to a change in the law which, although seemingly mundane, is very important to your handling of requests for peace officer personnel records, i.e., “Pitchess Motions.”

Code of Civil Procedure § 1005 establishes the relevant time periods for “Pitchess” Motions. It establishes the minimum amount of notice that must be afforded to your Department by the moving party and also establishes when written opposition to the motion must be filed. Section 1005 was amended by the Legislature in 1999 and several significant changes took effect January 1, 2000.

Previously, the moving party was required to give the Department at least 15 days notice of the hearing; more if the notice was mailed rather than personally delivered. Written opposition furthermore was required to be filed no later than five (5) court days before the hearing.

As amended, however, Section 1005 requires at least 21 days notice of the hearing; again, more notice is required if it is mailed rather than personally delivered (23 days if shipped overnight, 26 days if mailed within California, 31 days if mailed outside California but within the United States, and 41 days if mailed outside the United States). It is important to remember that if a motion is not timely served, Evidence Code § 1043 prohibits a hearing from being held on the motion.

Also, Section 1005 has been amended to require that written opposition to a motion be filed and served at least 10 calendar days before the hearing. That means that opposition papers must be filed and served two to three days sooner than under the old requirement.

Not only has the time for filing and serving written opposition changed, but the required method of service has changed. Previously, it was acceptable to simply put the written opposition in the mail five (5) court days before the hearing. Now, however, you are required to utilize a means of service (i.e. personal delivery, fax, express mail) that is “reasonably calculated to ensure delivery to the other party or parties not later than the close of the next business day after the time the opposing papers or reply papers, as applicable, are filed.” Code of Civil Procedure § 1005(b) (emphasis added). Strict adherence to the above time requirements is an important first line of defense in defending against “Pitchess” motions. And, if you utilize legal counsel to handle “Pitchess” motions, it is as important as ever to forward the relevant documents to your attorneys as soon as possible to ensure that your attorneys have sufficient time to file and serve opposition papers in a timely manner.

As always, if you have any questions, or wish to discuss this issue in greater detail, please do not hesitate to call.



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