LOS ANGELES -- The Los Angeles County district attorney's office has begun a review of past criminal cases involving deputies placed on a secret Sheriff's Department list of officers whose histories of misconduct could undermine their credibility in court.
District Attorney Jackie Lacey said she ordered the examination in response to a Los Angeles Times investigation last month that identified 24 deputies on an older version of the confidential list, including many who were disciplined or convicted of crimes.
Prosecutors, she said, are combing through cases in which those deputies might have testified and are trying to determine whether defendants should have been notified of the misconduct.
The deputies have been identified as potential witnesses in more than 4,400 felony criminal cases since 2000, according to a Times analysis of district attorney records, though it is unclear how often they testified or how significant their roles were in those cases.
Lacey said she could not recall a similarly large undertaking by her office since the Rampart scandal of the late 1990s, when accusations of perjury, evidence-tampering and other serious misconduct against dozens of Los Angeles Police Department officers led prosecutors to undo the convictions of more than 100 defendants.
"These are things prosecutors need to know to make sure that justice is done," she said of the deputy misconduct detailed by The Times. "As far as I'm concerned, it's part of our ... obligation to look into those cases in which the officers testified in the past and review those cases."
The newspaper's investigation provided the public -- and prosecutors -- with the first glimpse of who was on the Sheriff's Department list.
The union that represents deputies went to court to block Sheriff Jim McDonnell from giving the deputies' names to prosecutors, who are required by law to tell criminal defendants about evidence that would damage the credibility of an officer called as a witness. Last year, an appellate court ruled that the list of about 300 deputies must remain secret, citing California's strict laws protecting the confidentiality of police discipline.
But Times reporters reviewed a 2014 version of the roster that included 277 deputies, and scoured court and law enforcement records for details of how deputies landed on it. A Times analysis showed that the deputies were potential witnesses in more than 62,000 felony cases since 2000. It's unclear how many names have since been removed or added or whether deputies on the 2014 list are included in the current version.
The newspaper published the names of deputies who had been convicted of crimes, found by sheriff's investigators to have committed misconduct or been flagged by prosecutors for behavior that raised serious concerns about their conduct.