Defense attorneys urged New York’s highest court on Wednesday to allow questioning police officers at criminal trials about lawsuits that allege they lied, fabricated evidence or made false arrests in other cases.
The Court of Appeals is considering three cases where judges’ rulings against such questions were upheld by a midlevel court in Manhattan. The officers in each of the cases separately faced federal civil rights lawsuits. Defense lawyers argue that provided sufficient good-faith basis for questioning past misbehavior that would undermine their testimony. Trial judges in each case prohibited that cross-examination.
Prosecutors countered that the prohibited defense questions in all three cases were flawed and insufficiently specific, essentially generic questions about whether the officers had been sued or participated in false arrests.