'The liberties of a people never were, nor ever will be, secure, when the transactions of their rulers may be concealed from them.’Source: The Appeal
- Patrick Henry
This report details a court in Alameda County (Oakland, CA) using a state statute to destroy the case files of criminal cops charged with drug trafficking, soliciting prostitutes, making false arrests, planting drugs on suspects, and molesting women in the early 2000's. Some criminal cops, like those named in the infamous Riders case, got off scotch free while others, like officer Valerga who molested several Asian American women, received lenient sentences given the nature of their crimes. California state law only requires courts to retain misdemeanor criminal files for five years or three years if a case is dismissed. The statute in question potentially comes into conflict with the Brady rule (Brady v. Maryland) should any of these criminal cops be rehired in another precinct and repeat their criminal behavior. It is not uncommon for cops who were fired for misconduct in one department, and even criminally charged, to be reinstated or hired by another department. Of course, this also undermines police accountability in particular and government transparency in general since the public is precluded from knowing about these cases apart from old news articles. And citizens that are ignorant of the corruption and criminality of their public officials cannot be citizens in any meaningful sense.