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As many as 3,000 San Francisco criminal cases may have to be reviewed for possible Pitchess discovery violations, Public Defender Jeff Adachi said Tuesday, more than double the 1,300 cases he had previously estimated. After the police department recently acknowledged that certain officer Performance Improvement Program — or PIP — files had not been included in response to Pitchess motions for about two years, some defense attorneys said that hundreds of resolved cases might have been compromised by incomplete discovery information. Adachi’s concerns grew after he met Monday with representatives from the Superior Court, police department, district attorney’s office and the private bar. “We found out that the problem is much more serious than we had been told,” Adachi said. “The 800-pound gorilla has turned into an 80-ton gorilla.” Adachi and Julie Traun, a San Francisco solo who attended the meeting, said police reported that PIP files hadn’t been sent since at least 1997 to what was then the municipal court. “Now that we’re looking all the way back to 1997, it’s obviously a much bigger number,” Traun said. “I think that looking at all of them would be an overwhelming task.” The only way to tell whether missing PIP files would have made adifference in cases that have been resolved, said Traun, is to compare the information given to the courts in each case with the missing PIP file, and determine whether anything relevant was not put before a judge. “I think in the case of some officers it will make a difference, and in some cases it won’t make any difference at all,” Traun said. Adachi estimates that a comprehensive review by a special master and paralegals to identify cases where the missing files made a difference could cost $250,000 to $300,000. One idea floated at Monday’s meeting was to review a sample of the cases that might have been affected, Adachi said, but added that he doesn’t like the idea. Just because 100 weren’t affected doesn’t mean the rest weren’t, he said. “Each case is different.” Both Adachi and Traun noted San Francisco’s current fiscal woes — the city is trying to tackle a nearly $350 million deficit — and voiced their opinions about who should pay to review the Pitchess cases. “I do think that the police department should pay to clean up its own mess,” not the court or defense attorneys, Adachi said. Traun echoed that sentiment, saying, “It seems to me that it’s the police department that has caused the problem.” Lt. Charles Keohane, commanding officer of the police department’s legal division, said there’s still some disagreement over the extent and nature of any problem. “We’re trying to identify . . . what the span may be,” he said. “There’s been no instance where it’s been identified that relevant materials have not been provided to the court,” he emphasized. Lawyers routinely file Pitchess motions in criminal cases to obtain police files that may help them impeach officers testifying against their client. They can also be used in civil cases where a police officer is being sued. In response to Pitchess requests, police turn files about the officer over to a judge for review, and the judge decides what information to release to the attorney. San Francisco Superior Court Presiding Judge Donna Hitchens and Judge Kay Tsenin, who Adachi said were the court’s representatives at the meeting, could not be reached for comment.

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