Effective immediately, officers shall have no discussion with criminal defense attorneys regarding any pending criminal case without first obtaining express permission from the federal prosecutor, assistant district attorney or municipal prosecutor assigned to the case. This circular applies to criminal cases pending in any federal, state, county, or municipal court and shall include the prosecution of traffic citations.Newman, a former prosecutor under DA Chuck Rosenthal, considers this unethical:
when I was a prosecutor, we knew better than to ever instruct a police officer or any witness from talking to defense counsel. If a police officer's work on a case was so fragile that a phone conversation with the defense attorney could make the case fall like a house of cards, then we had a really big problem.This strikes me as about nine or ten different kinds of dumb. If a case has problems, better to identify them as early in the process as possible instead of waiting until cross-examination at trial. And Murray's right, if the case is so weak it can't survive a phone call from the defendant's lawyer, the state probably shouldn't be prosecuting it, anyway.
Telling an officer not to talk to the defense was unethical, in my opinion, and it gives an appearance of impropriety that borders on witness tampering.