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Production Denial Of California Investigative Jailhouse Informant Misuse Documents Ordered Reviewed

Ex California State prisoner Thomas Goldstein sought review of an order denying him grand jury investigative evidentiary materials for use in his 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action for wrongful conviction. The materials had a direct relationship to his 24 year incarceration for a crime he was later exonerated of. A review was ordered.

Goldstein’s 1980 murder conviction was obtained through false detective statements and no forensic evidence. Jailhouse informant Edward Fink testified that Goldstein admitted the murder after Fink was planted as his cell mate. A subsequent grand jury investigation into jailhouse informant misuse found that for the previous 10 years misuse was rampant. Goldstei was granted habeas proceedings which prompted a 2002 evidentiary hearing and his 2003 release after 24 years of incarceration. He filed suit and requested the sealed grand jury documents. The request was denied.

On appeal, the Second District Court of Appeal for the State of California remanded for production determination under Douglas Oil Co. v. Petrol Stops Northwest, 441 U.S. 211, 222, 60 L.E.2d 156 (1979). Under the three pronged test for disclosure, it had to be shown that: (1) the documents were needed to prevent injustice in another proceeding; (2) the need for continued secrecy outweighed disclosure; and (3) that only pertinent materials were specified. The court ordered that Goldstein collect appellate costs and further that any reasoning for continued nondisclosure be submitted in writing. See: Goldstein v. Superior Court of Los Angeles County, 154 Cal. App. 4th 482; 65 Cal. Rptr. 3d 90 (2007). The California Supreme Court subsequently granted review and depublished this case.

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Related legal case

Goldstein v. Superior Court of Los Angeles County