Access to Police Reports

March 31, 2015

The Supreme Court has ruled that just as the Constitution guarantees the right to an attorney, the Constitution also guarantees the right to represent yourself if you do not want an attorney.  If you are representing yourself in a criminal case, the most basic document you need to prepare your defense is a police report, which is a public record in all but the most unusual circumstances.  In Grand Rapids, the ACLU of Michigan received repeated complaints that the city was routinely denying defendants who were representing themselves the ability to see police reports in their own cases, even though criminal defense attorneys were freely given access to police reports about their clients.  In March 2015 we wrote a letter to the Grand Rapids City Attorney asking her to ensure that unrepresented defendants have access to police reports on the same terms as criminal defense attorneys.  The city eventually agreed and changed its policy.

(ACLU Attorney Miriam Aukerman and Legal Fellow Marc Allen; Cooperating Attorney Pete Walsh.)

View the full 2014-2015 Legal Docket.