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Old 05-16-2002, 07:51 PM
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Post Accused Officer Makes Bad Witness

Editorial: Witness for prosecution

Accused officer makes bad witness

Sacramento Bee
Published 2:15 a.m. PDT Wednesday, May 15, 2002Four
hours before he was arrested on 17 counts of sexual
battery, Sacramento police officer Darryl Rosen was
called by the Sacramento District Attorney's Office to
testify against a man charged with vehicular
manslaughter. The defense attorney in that case was
never told that Rosen, the witness against his client,
was himself under investigation for serious crimes.
The defense lawyer was never told that the allegations
against Rosen were so serious that the officer had
been taken off the streets five months earlier."It was
an oversight," Chief Deputy District Attorney Cindy
Besemer acknowledges, "something we should have taken
care of and we didn't."Besemer says Sacramento
prosecutors were so focused on making sure that they
got all the information they needed to arrest and
indict Rosen that they overlooked other aspects of the
case. The deputy DA who handled the case was not "in
the loop," Besemer says, and had no idea that Rosen
was under investigation or about to be indicted.That's
not a good enough excuse.

Prosecutors are under a
legal obligation to turn over to the defense any
information that might raise questions about the
credibility of the prosecution's witness. For example,
the defense is entitled to know when a witness is a
paid police informant or an accomplice in the crime
who has been promised leniency in return for
cooperation.When the witness is a police officer, the
defense is entitled to know if the officer has
anything in his background that would reflect
negatively on his credibility. The fact that Rosen had
been taken off the street and was about to be arrested
on charges of rape while in uniform is about as
negative a reflection on his credibility as there can
be.In how many other cases has Rosen testified? In the
wake of the embarrassing disclosures, District
Attorney Jan Scully has sent e-mails to all her
deputies to answer that question. According to
Besemer, at least two cases have been identified so
far. The district attorney has also asked the Police
Department to search its records. The Public
Defender's Office is doing its own search.The fact
that Rosen testified against someone who was later
convicted will not lead automatically to reversal or a
new trial. It depends on whether he was a key witness
who provided the crucial testimony, or a minor
participant in a case where other evidence of guilt
was overwhelming. Still, every case Rosen touched
needs to be reviewed. Simple fairness and the law
require that. So does any hope of effective
prosecution.
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Old 05-16-2002, 08:51 PM
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Old 05-17-2002, 02:49 AM
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