Prosecutors Offer Guidelines On Dishonest Police Witnesses

Dec 12, 2019

The county prosecutors' association in Pennsylvania gave its members guidelines Wednesday about informing defendants when police officers on their cases have been shown to be dishonest or biased, or may have committed crimes or engaged in certain types of misconduct at work.

The Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association released model standards regarding how to handle evidence that could cast doubts about an officer's trial testimony.

The association said the nonbinding guidelines will help prosecutors maintain quality standards during criminal investigations and prosecutions, and protect the rights of victims and defendants. Some instances would lead prosecutors not to use the officer as a witness, while in other cases they could be a witness but the information would be disclosed to the defense.

Local police agencies should have to tell county prosecutors when there are circumstances that could raise doubts about an officer's credibility as a trial witness, the association said.

If county prosecutors investigate and conclude that there's reason to doubt an officer's integrity and credibility, they can put him or her on a list of officers who are not to be used as trial witnesses or on search warrants or criminal complaints.

Officers would be given 30 days to ask county prosecutors to reconsider their status.