"July 6, 2016
Chief Mike Brady
Missoula City Police Department
RE: Detective Chris Shermer
Dear Chief Brady,
When we met last week, I learned that Detective Shermer had been disciplined by the Missoula
Police Department [MPD] in October 2010 for violations of MPD policies. Specifically, after an
internal investigation conducted by the MPD, Detective Shermer was found in violation of two
Articles of the Canon of Ethics, namely Article 3 and 4, by failing to educate himself of the
relevant criminal statutes and by using illegal means of pursuing a criminal offender. According
to MPD's report, the conduct that led to these :findings was as follows:
Detective Shermer investigated a criminal defendant for internet related child
pornography offenses. The investigation resulted in the issuance of an arrest warrant for
that defendant. That defendant lived in Billings and while Detective Shermer was in
Billings for an unrelated case, he began to search for that defendant to serve the arrest
Detective Shermer posed as that defendant in a telephone call to the Billings Job Service.
After providing verifying information, Detective Shermer obtained the user name and
password for the defendant's job service account and his last known address.
When the address did not verify through the 911 dispatch center, Detective Shermer used
the user name and password to access the defendant's job service account and verify he
wrote it down correctly. Once he confirmed he had written the address correctly he
logged out, realizing the information was of no value. He later arrested the defendant by
This letter is to notify you that based on the findings in the internal investigation, Detective
Shenner must be placed on a Giglio/Brady list, which will negatively impact his ability to
perform his duties as a witness in our cases. Any conduct or statement that affects an officer's
reputation for honesty and credibility has a direct relation to that officer's ability-or inabilityto
testify at trial.
History of Giglio
In Brady v. Maryland, the U.S. Supreme Court held that "the suppression by the prosecution of
evidence favorable to an accused upon request violates due process where the evidence is
material either to guilt or to punishment, irrespective of the good faith or bad faith of the
prosecution." Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963).
In Giglio v. United States, the Supreme Court extended the obligation to share exculpatory
information with the defendant to include information concerning the credibility of government
witnesses. "when the reliability of a given witness may be determinative of guilt or innocence,"
the Court wrote, "nondisclosure of evidence affecting credibility falls within this general rule."
Giglio v. United States, 405 U.S. 150 (1972).
In United States v. Agurs, the Supreme Court expanded the rule further by recognizing a due
process duty to disclose exculpatory information even in the absence of a specific request for it.
United States v. Agurs, 427 U.S. 97 (1976). The duty to disclose includes impeachment
evidence. United States v. Bagley, 473 U.S. 667 (1985).
Finally, the Court's decision in Kyles v. Whitley imposed upon the prosecutor an affirmative
"duty to learn of any favorable evidence known to the others acting on the government's behalf,
including the police," and a resulting duty to disclose that evidence to the defense. Kyles v.
Whitley, 514 U.S. 419 (1995).
A "Giglio-impaired" agent is one against whom there is potential impeachment evidence that
would render the agent's testimony of marginal value in a case, which means that a case that
depends primarily on the testimony of a Giglio-impaired witness is at risk. Cameron v.
Department of Justice, 100 M.S.P.R. 477,482 n. 1 (2005), review dismissed, 165 F. App'x 856
(Fed. Cir. 2006).
Evidence of a witness's untruthfulness is relevant and admissible under the Montana Rules of
Evidence. Mont. R. Evid. 401, 608(b), 61 l(b)(l). Additionally, the State is required to provide
materials which can be used to impeach a witness pursuant to our discovery statute, Mont. Code
Ann. § 46-15-322 (l)(e), in every case where the officer might testify.
Impeachment information may include but is not strictly limited to: (a) specific instances of
conduct of a witness for the purpose of attacking the witness' credibility or character for
truthfulness; (b) evidence in the form of opinion or reputation as to a witness's character for
truthfulness; ( c) prior inconsistent statements; and ( d) information that may be used to suggest
that a witness is biased. It also includes any finding of misconduct that reflects upon the
truthfulness or possible bias of the employee, including a finding oflack of candor during an
Detective Shermer Findings
A review of the internal investigation reveals instances of untruthfulness and deception which
will require disclosure by the prosecution every time he is called as a witness. Additionally, our
office will now have to go back and notify every defendant who has been convicted in a case
investigated by Detective Shermer since October, 2010 of these findings. This will inevitably
lead to post-conviction litigation in many of the cases.
A police officer's job is a position of trust and the public has a right to the highest standard of
behavior from those they invest with the power and authority of a law enforcement officer.
Honesty, credibility and temperament are crucial to the proper performance of an officer's duties.
The importance of police honesty cannot be overstated. Police officers rely on the validity of
information provided to them by fellow officers. Supervisors render decisions based on
information received from officers. Citizens will better communicate and cooperate with law
enforcement officials that they trust.
Prosecutors depend on honest reports, statements, and affidavits when prosecuting criminals. Judges rely on honesty in evaluating warrants. Jurors determine guilt or innocence and often liability based on an officer's investigation and testimony.
As a matter of public policy, dishonesty by law enforcement officers cannot be condoned.
The findings of dishonesty essentially render Detective Shermer ineffective as a witness because
of required Brady disclosures.
Kirsten H. Pabst
Missoula County Attorney
COUNTY KIRSTEN H. PABST
MISSOULA COUNTY ATTORNEY
200 W. BROADWAY
MISSOULA, MONTANA 59802-4292
FAX# (406) 523-4915
Notice of potential impeachment material RE: Officer Chris Shermer
To Whom it May Concern,
Detective Shermer was disciplined by the Missoula Police Department [MPD] in October 2010
for violating MPD policies. Specifically, Officer Shermer investigated a criminal defendant for
internet child pornography offenses. The investigation resulted in the issuance of an arrest
warrant for that defendant. Shermer went to Billings to search for the defendant and serve the
arrest warrant. Shermer contacted a job service agency posing to be the wanted defendant and
used the personal identifiers known to him through his access to the case file. After providing
verifying information from the file, Detective Shermer obtained the user name and password for
the defendant's job service account and his last known address. Shermer later arrested the
defendant by other means."
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