Judge Again Dismisses Fraternal Order of Police Suit over Police Misconduct Disclosures

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By The Vanguard Staff

PHILADELPHIA, PA – For the third time in the past five years, the Court of Common Pleas Thursday dismissed a lawsuit brought by the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5 over District Attorney Larry Krasner’s attempt to ensure police and prosecutors comply with the U.S. and Pennsylvania orders.

The leadership of FOP Lodge 5 failed to provide any evidence to support the claims made in their lawsuit against the City of Philadelphia and DA’s office, according to a statement by the DA’s office.

Judge Vincent L. Johnson Thursday found, said the DA’s office, “FOP has over the past five years sought to stop the Philadelphia Police Department from providing police misconduct information to prosecutors to utilize in the Police Misconduct Disclosure Database…a dynamic, internal database maintained by the CIU that enables prosecutors to comply with their constitutionally mandated duty to discover and disclose to criminal defendants information that could impeach the testimony of law enforcement witnesses.”

“Failure to disclose officer misconduct by arresting or testifying officers is a violation of prosecutors’ Brady and Giglio obligations under the U.S. Constitution,” said the DA’s statement, adding this form of prosecutorial misconduct is prevalent in convictions that have been vacated and in exonerations of likely innocent incarcerated people in Philadelphia, according to a 2021 report released by the DA’s Conviction Integrity Unit (CIU).

DA Krasner’s administration, since 2018, has operated one of the most prolific CIUs in the nation, securing 31 exonerations of 30 wrongfully convicted individuals.

“Today’s ruling marks yet another victory for my office’s years-long project of remaking Philadelphia’s criminal legal system so that it is fair, it has integrity, and it seeks justice moving forward and looking backward. This is the third dismissal of the FOP leadership’s baseless litigation, which has come at great cost to the paid dues of FOP membership and to the taxpayers of Philadelphia, who are too often forced to defend frivolous lawsuits,” DA Krasner said. 

Krasner added, “On a day that the U.S. Supreme Court majority has thrown yet another axe at wrongfully incarcerated people’s rights, the responsibility of prosecutors to get it right the first time is greater than ever. Philadelphians ought to be proud that our Police Misconduct Disclosure Database is among the most innovative tools created to support conviction integrity in the country. 

“Residents and taxpayers of every other county in Pennsylvania ought to demand that their DAs replicate what we are doing here, so that they are not constantly stuck paying costly legal settlements to wrongfully convicted people.”

Conviction Integrity Unit Supervisor Michael Garmisa said: “We are very glad that at the close of FOP Lodge 5’s case, Judge Johnson granted a non-suit because the evidence proved FOP’s complaints were not true. The court’s decision is a victory for fairness and justice. We will continue to prosecute the guilty while complying with our constitutional obligations to provide criminal defendants with access to impeaching information of law enforcement witnesses that we receive from Internal Affairs.”

Garmisa added, “This case recognizes our legal position that the Philadelphia Police Department has an obligation to assist us by providing appropriate Internal Affairs documents for the District Attorney’s review, and rejects the FOP leadership’s efforts to interfere with that constitutionally mandated process.”

The DA’s office said, in 2021, the “Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania unanimously affirmed a 2019 Court of Common Pleas decision dismissing the FOP’s lawsuit over the PMD Database. “

On May 12, 2023, a separate but similar lawsuit filed by a police officer against the DA’s office was dismissed in U.S. District Court. The DA’s office subsequently filed a notice of supplemental authority with the Court of Common Pleas.

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