Defense lawyers are outraged that Philadelphia prosecutors didn’t tell them about a list of potentially untrustworthy police officers. They say that hundreds of old criminal cases could be in jeopardy.
The revelation that the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office has keeps a secret list of suspect police officers elicited outrage as well as uncertainty among defense lawyers, reports Philly.com. One attorney said he was never told that a detective involved in his client’s homicide case, Philip Nordo, had been placed on the roster. Other defense lawyers were outraged that prosecutors had not shared the list. Some speculated that confirmation of its existence lead lawyers to file petitions asking for hundreds of old criminal cases to be reviewed or tossed out. “That’s fair game for any lawyer who represents any client in the city of Philadelphia,” said defense attorney Guy Sciolla.
District Attorney Larry Krasner says his office will need three months to develop a comprehensive plan for addressing problem cops and their testimony. The office of former District Attorney Seth Williams created the internal list as a way to alert frontline prosecutors to potentially untrustworthy officers, to trigger a debate about using their testimony. If Krasner were to release such a list or add more officers to it, the change-minded prosecutor risks angering the police union or inviting a flood of lawsuits against officers branded as problematic. At the same time, prosecutors are bound to comply with long-established doctrine requiring them to give defendants any information that might help their defense. It all amounts to an early political and policy test for Krasner, who promised on the campaign trail to combat police misconduct as part of his mission to reform the criminal justice system.