Rachel Moran with students.
Mark Brown / University of St. Thomas

In the News: Rachel Moran on New Police Misconduct Reporting Requirements From Hennepin County Attorney

Rachel Moran, professor of law at the University of St. Thomas School of Law, recently spoke with the Star Tribune about new requirements for disclosing an officer’s history of misconduct.

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From the story:

Hennepin County Attorney Mary Moriarty sent a letter to police chiefs last month announcing new requirements on what their agencies must disclose about an officer’s history of misconduct, a measure she says will ensure fairer criminal proceedings in Minnesota courts.

Prosecutors in the U.S. are constitutionally obligated to disclose any information that could aid in the defense of someone accused of a crime, including evidence that casts doubt on the credibility of a witness, such as the police officers whose testimony and investigations are critical to securing convictions. This data – known as “Brady” or “Giglio” for the legal doctrines – may include an officer’s pattern of rule breaking or lying. But there is debate among prosecutors across America on what exactly must be disclosed.

Moriarty’s letter instructs police departments in Hennepin County to begin turning over any evidence of critical findings related to a police officer’s truthfulness or candor, bias against a person or group, excessive force, improper search and seizure or abuse of authority. They must also notify the courts if an officer failed to follow proper protocols related to collecting or handling evidence, obtaining statements, recording communications, obtaining consent to search or record communications, supervising criminal informants or analyzing forensic evidence. ...

Rachel Moran, a University of St. Thomas law professor who has written legal articles on constitutional disclosure requirements, called the new policy a “dramatic improvement.”

“This is a very strong policy that is on the better end of things and makes really specific efforts to comply with the law,” she said.