A federal judge ruled Monday that Ventura County Dist. Atty. Michael D. Bradbury does not have to turn over to the Los Angeles County sheriff confidential documents related to the shooting death of millionaire rancher Donald Scott.
U.S. Magistrate R. J. Groh Jr. had earlier issued a lengthy and harshly written ruling ordering Bradbury to turn over the documents. But Bradbury asked U. S. District Judge Dickran M. Tevrizian to reconsider that order. Tevrizian overturned Groh's order Monday.
Los Angeles County Sheriff Sherman Block had hoped to use the documents to defend a lawsuit brought by Scott's widow that accuses Block and his deputies of depriving the rancher of his civil rights.
One of Block's deputies shot and killed Scott at his Ventura County ranch near Malibu in 1993. The deputy had obtained a search warrant in Ventura County, saying he had information that Scott was growing marijuana.
No drugs were found during the raid, and Bradbury later issued a report blasting the deputy and his department for misleading a judge to obtain the warrant. Bradbury contended the raid was motivated in part to seize Scott's $5-million ranch.
Block's attorneys wanted all documents related to the case, including reports filed by former Deputy Dist. Atty. Carol Nelson, who had disagreed with Bradbury's conclusions.
But Bradbury's attorney, Glen M. Reiser, successfully argued to Tevrizian that those internal documents were protected by a federal law that allows government officials to argue and discuss matters in private before issuing public reports.
Block's attorneys said they plan to appeal the ruling to the U. S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.