California Evidence Code Section 1043

Evidence Code section 1043, subdivision (a) requires a written motion and notice to the governmental agency which has custody of the records sought, and subdivision (b) provides that such motion shall include, inter alia, '(2) A description of the type of records or information sought; and (3) Affidavits showing good cause for the discovery or disclosure sought, setting forth the materiality thereof to the subject matter involved in the pending litigation and stating upon reasonable belief that such governmental agency identified has such records or information from such records.' "A finding of 'good cause' under Evidence Code section 1043, subdivision (b) is only the first hurdle in the discovery process. Once good cause for discovery has been established, Evidence Code section 1045 provides that the court shall then examine the information 'in chambers' in conformity with Evidence Code section 915 (i.e., out of the presence of all persons except the person authorized to claim the privilege and such other persons as he or she is willing to have present), and shall exclude from disclosure several enumerated categories of information, including: (1) complaints more than five years old, (2) the 'conclusions of any officer investigating a complaint ...' and (3) facts which are 'so remote as to make disclosure of little or no practical benefit.' (Evid. Code, 1045, subd. (b).) "In addition to the exclusion of specific categories of information from disclosure, Evidence Code section 1045 establishes general criteria to guide the court's determination and insure that the privacy interests of the officers subject to the motion are protected. Where the issue in litigation concerns the policies or pattern of conduct of the employing agency, the statute requires the court to 'consider whether the information sought may be obtained from other records ... which would not necessitate the disclosure of individual personnel records.' (Evid. Code, 1045, subd. (c).) The law further provides that the court may, in its discretion, 'make any order which justice requires to protect the officer or agency from unnecessary annoyance, embarrassment or oppression.' (Evid. Code, 1045, subd. (d).) And, finally, the statute mandates that in any case where disclosure is permitted, the court 'shall ... order that the records disclosed or discovered shall not be used for any purpose other than a court proceeding pursuant to applicable law.' (Evid. Code, 1045, subd. (e).) "As statutory schemes go the foregoing is a veritable model of clarity and balance. Evidence Code section 1043 clearly requires a showing of 'good cause' for discovery in two general categories: (1) the 'materiality' of the information or records sought to the 'subject matter involved in the pending litigation,' and (2) a 'reasonable belief' that the governmental agency has the 'type' of information or records sought to be disclosed. (Evid. Code, 1043, subd. (b).) "The relatively low threshold for discovery embodied in Evidence Code section 1043 is offset, in turn, by Evidence Code section 1045's protective provisions which: (1) explicitly 'exclude from disclosure' certain enumerated categories of information (Evid. Code, 1045, subd. (b)); (2) establish a procedure for in camera inspection by the court prior to any disclosure (Evid. Code, 1045, subd. (b)); and (3) issue a forceful directive to the courts to consider the privacy interests of the officers whose records are sought and take whatever steps 'justice requires' to protect the officers from 'unnecessary annoyance, embarrassment or oppression.' (Evid. Code, 1045, subds. (c), (d) & (e).) "The statutory scheme thus carefully balances two directly conflicting interests: the peace officer's just claim to confidentiality, and the criminal defendant's equally compelling interest in all information pertinent to his defense. The relatively relaxed standards for a showing of good cause under Evidence Code section 1043, subdivision (b)--'materiality' to the subject matter of the pending litigation and a 'reasonable belief' that the agency has the type of information sought--insure the production for inspection of all potentially relevant documents. The in camera review procedure and disclosure guidelines set forth in Evidence Code section 1045 guarantee, in turn, a balancing of the officer's privacy interests against the defendant's need for disclosure. As a further safeguard, moreover, the courts have generally refused to disclose verbatim reports or records of any kind from peace officer personnel files, ordering instead ... that the agency reveal only the name, address and phone number of any prior complainants and witnesses and the dates of the incidents in question. " (City of Santa Cruz v. Municipal Court, 49 Cal.3d at pp. 81-84; see also Alford v. Superior Court (2003) 29 Cal.4th 1033, 1037-1039 130 Cal.Rptr.2d 672, 63 P.3d 228; People v. Mooc (2001) 26 Cal.4th 1216, 1225-1227 114 Cal.Rptr.2d 482, 36 P.3d 21; City of Los Angeles v. Superior Court, supra, 111 Cal.App.4th at pp. 889-890.)