I have a disposition hearing for a new case and I would like to present evidence, particularly from conversations between my public defender and my doctor and the DA and my doctor, from an old case. Is it possible to request those documents from the court?

EDIT: The jurisdiction is California.


Are these records of informal conversations with the doctor, or records of the doctor's testimony?

You can request records of testimony from the court, which probably has audio recordings or a transcript that you could order.

For records of informal conversations, you should direct your request to the attorney who represented you in the previous case. Under Rule 1.16 of the California Rules of Professional Conduct:

the lawyer promptly shall release to the client, at the request of the client, all client materials and property. “Client materials and property” includes correspondence, pleadings, deposition transcripts, experts’ reports and other writings, exhibits, and physical evidence, whether in tangible, electronic or other form, and other items reasonably necessary to the client’s representation, whether the client has paid for them or not.


To the extent that the conversations and evidence you want is part of the court record, these are generally considered "for public inspection". You can go to the court house and view the file for free usually, or you can request a copy. Most courts charge a per-page copy charge (I've seen $0.25 to $1.00 per page, depending on the court.) Whether you can file the request by phone/fax/etc. is going to depend on the court. Just call them and tell them you'd like a copy of your previous file and ask them what options they offer. (Don't give them a bunch of background - it's a waste of time - they provide copies of files every day to people and attorneys - just tell them you need a copy and they'll let you know how you can get it.)

To the extent that there is evidence or notes from your previous attorney that were not made part of the court record, you'll need to call their office to get that. Again, this is a very normal, daily request that we attorneys get. As long as you don't have a balance due to the attorney, they should provide you with a complete copy of your file. Again, they may charge you a copy fee. (And if you due have a balance due, don't let that stop you. Call and ask anyway. Sometimes we're glad to know a person has new representation and the attorney may work with you to get you the file.)

For records that a police station would have but your previous attorney never got, you can file a FOIA request. I've done this for fingerprint reports before.

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