Designation on “Brady List” Entitles Sheriff to Independent Attorney

California has a statute that outlines the circumstances under which a county must provide an independent attorney to a sheriff. The statute states that the sheriff is entitled to counsel “in any case where the County counsel or the district attorney would have a conflict of interest in representing the sheriff.” Francisco Rivero is the Sheriff of Lake County and the local District Attorney announced his intention to designate Rivero as a Brady officer. The consequence of being designated a Brady officer is that the District Attorney would be required to disclose to the defense in a criminal case that the officer testifying had previously provided false information. Rivero sued the County seeking independent counsel to bring a legal challenge of his Brady designation. The California Court of Appeals ordered the County to provide an attorney to Rivero. The plain language of the California statute imposes a mandatory duty upon the County to provide an independent attorney for the sheriff in a dispute bearing upon the public official’s performance of their official duties. Here, the designation as a Brady officer clearly has a bearing upon the performance of the sheriff.

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