Release of lab documents is blocked 

A judge ruled in favor of attorneys for the Police Department and temporarily blocked documents related to the drug lab scandal from being released to the general public.

Thousands of pages of documents have already been ordered released by Superior Court Judge Anne-Christine Massullo, but police are now trying to block those items under a protective order that would prevent lawyers from sharing the information with the public.

The documents handed over Tuesday to defense lawyers may contain more information about former crime lab technician Deborah Madden’s behavior and job performance, which were attracting attention outside the lab, according to the first round of documents already released.

Assistant District Attorney Sharon Woo sent a Nov. 19 e-mail to Chief Assistant District Attorney Russ Giuntini complaining that Madden was deliberately calling in sick and creating “disturbing” problems for drug cases.

Also Tuesday, Massullo continued to pester prosecutors about the failure to disclose Madden’s previous criminal history.

A San Mateo County jury convicted Madden in 2008 of domestic violence and vandalism for throwing a phone at her longtime partner inside their Belmont home. Madden’s attorney referred to the fight as a “spat” and Madden subsequently enrolled in an alcohol treatment program and was sentenced to 30 days in jail.

The Police Department has said it botched its legal responsibility to disclose the conviction to defense lawyers handling drug cases Madden analyzed. The omission is now part of a debate about whether the District Attorney’s Office was required to perform a background check on Madden before putting her on the stand.

On Tuesday, the Police Department’s legal counsel, Kelly O’Haire, said Madden was not protected under the rules governing peace officers. Sworn officers are allowed certain privacy rights that civilian employees are not. Massullo has yet to rule on the distinction.

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Brent Begin

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