When the police did a poor job investigating a case, the jury can use that to decide a defendant is not guilty

Jay Leiderman
By: Jay Leiderman
April 25 2016



In Kyles v. Whitley (1995) 514 U.S. 419, 445-449, the United States Supreme Court holds that the defense can attack the police in front of the jury both by cross-examination and in closing argument, concerning shoddy, slovenly, inadequate, or biased police investigation work.  (See also United States v. Hanna (9th Cir. 1995) 55 F.3d 1456, and United States v. Sager (9th Cir. 2000) 227 F.3d 1138, 1145-1146, relying on Kyles.)

In Sager the court said:  “[T]he district court committed plain error and abused its discretion by instructing the jury not to ‘grade’ the investigation.” (Id. at 1145.)  “Details of the investigatory process potentially affected Inspector Morris’s credibility and, perhaps more importantly, the weight to be given to evidence produced by his investigation. Defense counsel may have been fishing for flaws, but it is obvious that he cast his bait in a promising pond.”  (Id.)  To fail to allow this line of inquiry impinges on a defendant’s state and federal constitutional rights to confrontation and compulsory process.  (See Pointer v. Texas (1965) 380 U.S. 400, 403- 405.)

The defense has wide latitude in cross-examination of prosecution witnesses in a criminal case.  (People v. Ormes (1948) 88 Cal.App.2d 353, 359; People v. Watson (1956) 46 Cal.App.2d 818, 827.)  “We construe the [proper scope of cross-examination], at least ordinarily, that when a prosecution witness testifies to facts tending to establish the guilt of one criminally accused, that witness may be cross-examined on all relevant and material matters preceding, concurring with, or following the criminal event, within his knowledge and reasonably related to the issue of guilt or innocence.”  (In re Victor F. (1980) 112 Cal.App.3d 673, 682-683, citing Gallaher v. Superior Court (1980) 103 Cal.App.3d 666, 671.)



At Jay Leiderman Law, we have proven results over years of practice, and we are uniquely qualified to represent you in your time of need. We are situated in Ventura, California but we handle cases throughout the state. We have the expertise, experience and skill to handle numerous types of legal matters.  Jay Leiderman is one of only a few CERTIFIED CRIMINAL LAW SPECIALISTS in the area.  He handles every kind of criminal law case. He is famous for defending medical marijuana cases and computer hacking cases, though the bulk of his practice is a generous mix of those cases plus serious felonies and misdemeanors.  Read more at his Wikipedia page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jay_Leiderman or his homepage www.jayleiderman.com

“A creative and multi-faceted vigorous defense comes from a creative, multifaceted lawyer.” – Jay Leiderman.

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Jay leiderman addresses a crowd at a protest after celebrated hacktivist Jeremy Hammond was sentenced

This post does not create an attorney-client relationship and does not constitute legal advice.  Moreover, the law changes over time.  Always consult an attorney before determining what motion s to file and what the current law is as to any particular topic.

Criminal defense attorney and author Jay Leiderman, a California State Bar Certified Criminal Law Specialist can be contacted through the contact page of this website: https://www.jayleiderman.com/contact/


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