A Pitchess motion
is a request made by the defense in a California criminal case, such as a DUI case or a resisting arrest case, to access a law enforcement officer's personnel information when the defendant alleges in a affidavit
that the officer used excessive force or lied about the events surrounding the defendant's arrest. The information included can include prior incidents of use of force, allegations of excessive force, citizen complaints, and information gathered during the officer's pre-empolyment background investigation. The motion's name comes from the case Pitchess v. Superior Court
11 Cal.3d 531 (1974).
A defendant's right to information about alleged officer misconduct or dishonesty has since been established by statute in California in sections 1043 through 1047 of the California Evidence Code.