ACLU of Southern Cal. 1616 Beverly Blvd Los Angeles, CA 90026 (213) 977-9500 Jail and prison conditions, rare habeus corpus.
ACLU of Northern Cal. 1663 Mission St., Suite 460 San Francisco, CA 94103 (415) 621-2493 Prison conditions, rare post-conviction matters; habeus corpus.
California Prison Focus Contact: Corey Weinstein 2940 16th St., #307 San Francisco, CA 94103 (415) 252-9211 Investigate conditions of confinement in California's control unit prisons at Pelican Bay, Corcoran and Valley State Prison for Women.
California Innocence Project 225 Cedar St. San Diego, CA 92101 (800) 255-4252
Civil Rights Legal Defense Team 2207 South 39th St. St. Louis, MO 63100
Disability Rts. Education Defense Fund 2212 - 6th Street Berkeley, CA 94710 (510) 644-2555
Justice NOW 1322 Webster Street, Suite 210 Oakland, CA 94612 (510) 839-7654 Provides legal services, education, and support to women prisoners.
National Center for Youth Law 405 - 14th St., 15th Floor Oakland, CA 94612-2701 (510) 835-8198
Post-Conviction Justice Project USC Law Center, University Park Los Angeles, CA 90089-0071
Prison Law Office General Delivery San Quentin, CA 94964 (415) 457-9144 http://prisonlaw. com Legal assistance on prison conditions, in particular disability rights and health care issues.
Law Offices of Alan Ellis 916 Irwin St. San Rafael, CA 94901 (415) 460-1430
Legal Services for Prisoners with Children 1540 Market St., Suite 490 San Francisco, CA 94102 (415) 255-7036
The following are the offices of the FBI for California...
FBI Los Angeles Suite 1700, FOB 11000 Wilshire Boulevard Los Angeles, California 90024-3672 losangeles.fbi.gov (310) 477-6565 FBI Sacramento 4500 Orange Grove Avenue Sacramento, California 95841-4205 sacramento.fbi.gov (916) 481-9110 FBI San Diego Federal Office Building 9797 Aero Drive San Diego, California 92123-1800 sandiego.fbi.gov (858) 565-1255 FBI San Francisco 450 Golden Gate Avenue, 13th. Floor San Francisco, California 94102-9523 sanfrancisco.fbi.gov (415) 553-7400
Q: Why's the FBI so concerned about public corruption? Dan: Two main reasons. First, it strikes at the core of what our country's about. Our democracy depends on a healthy, efficient, and ethical government—whether it's in the courtroom or the halls of Congress. Second, public corruption can have a direct impact on national security. For example, in a recent case in Arizona, 26 current and former department of motor vehicles (DMV) employees were indicted for taking cash bribes for fake driver's licenses, ID cards, and even a hazmat license. What if it's a terrorist trying to get one of those licenses? We've also seen bribes paid at our borders to let drugs come into the country. Again, what if a bribe lets a terrorist get through?
Public corruption is one of the FBI’s top investigative priorities—behind only terrorism, espionage, and cyber crimes. Why? Because our democracy and national security depend on a healthy, efficient, and ethical government. Public corruption can impact everything from how well our borders are secured and our neighborhoods protected…to verdicts handed down in courts of law…to the quality of our roads and schools. Here you can find more information on how we investigate cases of corruption across all levels of government and details on our strong national program to address these crimes.
If you have questions or complaints about government, your first step should be to contact the agency or officials most directly involved. Here is a general guide to help you direct your inquiries and complaints to the appropriate place.
Government Agencies / Officials
To contact a city agency, refer to City Government listings in your telephone book or check the city's website. If you have information that may indicate improper governmental activities in a city agency or by a city employee or public official, we suggest that you submit your complaint to the district attorney or grand jury in the county where the action has occurred. The state Attorney General is authorized to undertake the role of a prosecuting officer only in specific cases when the county district attorney is disqualified from the case or when they clearly, without justification, fail to act.
To contact a county agency, refer to County Government listings in your telephone book or check the county's website. If you have information that may indicate improper governmental activities in a city county agency or by a city county employee or public official, we suggest that you submit your complaint to the district attorney or grand jury in the county where the action has occurred. The state Attorney General is authorized to undertake the role of a prosecuting officer only in specific cases when the county district attorney is disqualified from the case or when they clearly, without justification, fail to act.
The Attorney General's Office is frequently unable to represent or assist individuals regarding non-criminal complaints against state agencies because this office is required by law to represent those agencies in disputes arising out of their actions. For assistance in resolving a problem with a state agency, we suggest that you contact the director of the state agency, your elected representatives in the California Legislature, or a private attorney. A complaint alleging criminal conduct by a state public official may be directed to the Attorney General's Criminal Law Division. The complaint must be in writing and must contain detailed information so that an informal decision can be made on what further action may be warranted.
Disputes with federal agencies fall within the jurisdiction of the federal government. For assistance, you can contact your elected member in the U.S. Senate or U.S. House of Representatives. For allegations of fraud involving federal government programs, you may want to contact the U.S. General Accounting Office. For complaints to be acted on, allegations must be clear and specific.
Complaints against a judge or court commissioner should be directed to the Commission on Judicial Performance. The 11-member Commission on Judicial Performance may censure, remove, retire or admonish judges for willful misconduct in office, persistent failure or inability to perform the duties of office, habitual intemperance, conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice that may be detrimental to the judicial office itself, or a disability of a permanent character that seriously interferes with the performance of duties. (Cal. Const., art. VI, §§ 8, 18). Details for filing a complaint are available on the commission's website or contact:
Commission on Judicial Performance455 Golden Gate Avenue, Suite 14400San Francisco, California 94102-3660Phone: (415) 557-1200
If you have a complaint against a police officer or sheriff's deputy, you should first contact the local law enforcement agency. Each law enforcement agency in the state is required by Penal Code section 832.5 to establish a procedure to investigate citizens' complaints. You can obtain a written description of the procedures from the law enforcement agency. If unable to resolve your complaint with the law enforcement agency, contact the district attorney's office or the grand jury in the county that has jurisdiction. If your complaint involves alleged criminal misconduct and the local agencies do not act upon it, you may write to the Attorney General's Office. To be acted upon, your complai
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If you have a complaint involving the California Highway Patrol, you should first address the matter to the local CHP office. The California Highway Patrol provides instructions for filing complaints about CHP officers and employees. If your complaint alleges unlawful misconduct and the CHP has not responded within a reasonable time, you may direct a written complaint to the Attorney General's Office. Your complaint should include details of efforts to resolve the matter through the CHP Internal Affairs Division and Commissioner's Office. A complaint that does not contain specific information about alleged criminal misconduct cannot be acted on. Law Enforcement Complaint Form.
California law gives discretionary authority to a locally elected prosecutor in filing criminal actions. In deciding whether to file charges, a district attorney must evaluate the likelihood that a jury, after weighing all the conflicting evidence, would find the defendant guilty "beyond a reasonable doubt." It may not be uncommon for members of the public to differ with the district attorney's determination, but the decision rests with the local prosecutor. The Attorney General's intervention is appropriate only where there is a demonstrated conflict of interest that would disqualify the district attorney from a particular case; or there is an obvious abuse of prosecutorial discretion. The fact that an incident has created strong feelings within the community or the prosecutor's decision may be controversial or unpopular does not provide a basis for intervention by the Attorney General.
Other Government Topics
If you have concerns about possible violations of the state's open meeting laws, you should consult two helpful publications available on the Attorney General's Open Government web page. The "Handy Guide to the Bagley-Keene Open Meeting Act" applies to state government agencies and "The Brown Act, Open Meetings for Local Legislative Bodies" applies to local governments. Open meeting laws typically are enforced by private lawsuit, although a particularly flagrant violation may be subject to misdemeanor action brought by the District Attorney or injunctive, mandatory or declaratory relief action brought by the Attorney General.
California law outlines the public's right to government records, procedures for requesting access and the government agency's rights to withhold certain types of records. Disputes over public access to records may be taken to court under the California Public Records Act. The Attorney General issues a regular publication summarizing the California Public Records Act. You can find the publication and more information on the Attorney General's Open Government web page.
For a summary of California conflicts-of-interest laws and the remedies available, go to the Attorney General's Open Government web page. Complaints about conflicts of interest by state or local government officials in violation of the California Political Reform Act should be directed to the Fair Political Practices Commission. For criminal violations, local district attorneys and the Attorney General have concurrent jurisdiction.
A governmental authority, agent or person acting on behalf of a governmental authority is prohibited from engaging in a pattern or practice of conduct by law enforcement officers that deprives any person of rights, privileges, or immunities secured or protected by state or federal law. The Attorney General may bring a civil action for equitable or declaratory relief to eliminate the unlawful pattern or practice. (112)
Penal Code section 832.5 requires each department or agency which employs peace officers to establish a procedure for investigating citizens' complaints against such officers. Each department or agency is required to make available to the public a written description of the procedure it uses. Complaints, reports, or findings must be retained for a period of at least five years.
It is the policy of the California Department of Justice that local government will be primarily responsible for citizen complaints against law enforcement agencies and their employees, and that appropriate local resources (e.g., sheriff or police department, district attorney, citizens' review commission and/or grand jury) be utilized for resolution of such complaints prior to a request for intervention by the Attorney General. All complaints filed with the California Department of Justice will be processed and reviewed by the Attorney General's Public Inquiry Unit to determine whether all local remedies have been exhausted. Complaints meeting this criterion are then forwarded to and reviewed by the Attorney General's Criminal Law Division and Civil Rights Enforcement Section. If the complaint alleges that the local district attorney wrongfully declined to criminally prosecute the officer-involved, the Criminal Law Division may review the matter to determine whether the district attorney abused his or her discretion in declining to bring criminal charges and take whatever other action that the Attorney General may deem appropriate. Complaints that raise alleged patterns or practices of the violation of civil rights by a local law enforcement agency may be reviewed by the Civil Rights Enforcement Section for whatever action that the Attorney General may deem appropriate. You may contact:
California Department of JusticeOffice of the Attorney GeneralPublic Inquiry UnitP.O. Box 944255Sacramento, CA 94244-2550Telephone (800) 952-5225 Toll Free (in California)(916) 322-3360(800) 952-5549 Toll Free TTD (in California)(916) 324-5564 TTD
Civil Code sections 52.3, and 52.1, and the California Constitution, article V, section 13, provide civil remedies under which the California Attorney General may redress patterns or practices.
Penal Code section 13519.4, effective January 1, 2001, prohibits "racial profiling" by law enforcement officers. "Racial profiling" is the practice of detaining a suspect for no reason other than the color of that person's skin or apparent nationality or ethnicity. Racial profiling violates the Due Process and Equal Protection clauses and the prohibition against unlawful searches and seizures embodied in the state and federal constitutions. Every law enforcement officer is required to participate in training on racial and cultural diversity, which includes, but is not limited to, gender and sexual orientation issues.
42 U.S.C. 14141 is the federal law prohibiting any governmental authority, agent, or person acting on behalf of a governmental authority, to engage in a pattern or practice of conduct by law enforcement officers or by officials or employees of any governmental agency with responsibility for the administration of juvenile justice or the incarceration of juveniles that deprives persons of rights, privileges, or immunities secured or protected by the Constitution and laws of the United States. To file a section 14141 complaint, contact:
U.S. Department of JusticeCivil Rights DivisionSpecial Litigation SectionP.O. Box 66400,Washington, D.C. 20035-6400Telephone: (202) 514-6255Fax: (202) 514-0212Web site: http://www.usdoj.gov/crt/split/index.html
In addition, there are other state and federal penal statutes that address peace officer misconduct. Those cases are prosecuted under state statutes by district attorneys and city attorneys, and under federal statutes by U.S. Attorneys and/or the U.S. Department of Justice.
Individuals may also seek other civil and tort remedies under state and federal law. Local and state bar associations may be contacted for private attorney referrals. Contact the California State Bar at:
No one is above the law, especially those who are sworn to uphold it. Those who are charged with enforcing the laws of the State of California must themselves scrupulously obey the law. They must lead by example, and that example must be based on principles of honesty, integrity, credibility and accountability.
When judges, attorneys, police officers, and others working in the justice system break the law, they must be held accountable for their actions. The District Attorney created the Justice System Integrity Division (JSID), a team of highly experienced prosecutors and investigators, to ensure just that. JSID – with enhanced cooperation from local and federal agencies – provides the resources to detect, investigate, and prosecute criminal misconduct among those sworn to uphold the law.
By doing so, JSID deters criminal wrongdoing and helps raise confidence in law enforcement, the courts, and the justice system in general.
Matters involving the use of force, especially when death or serious bodily injury occurs, are often the most scrutinized matters involving a peace officer. The community has a right to know whether or not an officer lawfully used deadly force in the application of his or her duties. It is incumbent upon the District Attorney’s Office to investigate officer-involved shootings and deaths that occur while a person is in the custody of a peace officer.
To that end, the District Attorney’s Office has established the District Attorney Response Team (D.A.R.T.). Whenever a law enforcement shooting within the County of Los Angeles injures or fatally wounds a person, an experienced deputy district attorney and a senior investigator respond to the scene and conduct an independent investigation into the matter. The District Attorney’s Office also conducts independent investigations whenever force has been used against a person who is in the custody of a law enforcement officer and it appears that the force may have been the proximate cause of death.