Is It Legal for Police to Lie to a Witness

In People v. Diaz (2002) 95 Cal.App.4th 695, a material witness to a gang murder told police officers that she was unwilling to testify at the preliminary hearing. (Diaz, supra, 95 Cal.App.4th at p. 707.) To secure her presence at the hearing, the police falsely told her they were taking her to the police station for an interview, and then drove her to the courthouse. (Ibid.) Following the hearing, the officers monitored the witness's location on a weekly basis, and waited until the day of trial to serve a subpoena on her. (Ibid.) According to one of the officers, this tactic was necessary because serving the subpoena earlier was likely to have ensured the witness's unavailability. (Ibid.) When the officers arrived at her residence, they found that she had disappeared, and their efforts to locate her were unsuccessful. (Id. at pp. 706-707.) The appellate court concluded that the officers' efforts to secure the witness's presence were reasonable in light of her "'calculated effort to avoid service of process.'" (Id. at p. 707.)