County ‘Laurie’ Lists Missing a Few State Police Names

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Merrimack County Attorney's office Laurie lists show the redacted names of seven state police officers on the 2014 list and eight redacted names on the most recent list, but Col. Robert Quinn says there are nine names on the state police list now. County attorneys refuse to release the names saying they are confidential by law.

UPDATE Oct. 12, 2015: Deputy Attorney General Ann Rice today confirmed that there are in fact nine sworn NHSP personnel on the “Laurie” list, not the seven or eight redacted names that appear on other county Laurie lists. “The numbers may be higher because we no longer apply the rule that a person comes off the list after 10 years, so some names have been added back on to the list,” Rice said. She didn’t know if that was the case with the state police discrepancy.       

 

New Hampshire State Police have two officers with potential credibility issues that don’t appear on the 10 county attorneys’ “Laurie” lists, even though Col. Robert Quinn said the correct number was forwarded to them.

Quinn, the commander of state police, said there are a total of nine sworn personnel on the state police Laurie list, but most county attorneys that break down their lists by department show seven for state police.

Four members of state police and one auxiliary on the list are still working; four have left the department, Quinn said.

Quinn said his organization is careful to send letters to the 10 county attorneys and the Attorney General’s Office when sworn personnel are designated as Laurie officers and then sends them an updated list every year.

“I cannot say what they (prosecutors) have,” Quinn said. “I can tell you what we have and have forwarded to them.”

Quinn said there are a total of nine sworn personnel on the state police Laurie list, but most county attorneys that break down their lists by department show seven for state police. Four members of state police and one auxiliary on the list are still working; four have left the department, Quinn said.

Quinn said his organization is careful to send letters to the 10 county attorneys and the Attorney General’s Office when sworn personnel are designated as Laurie officers and then sends them an updated list every year.

“I cannot say what they (prosecutors) have,” Quinn said. “I can tell you what we have and have forwarded to them.”
That means prosecutors could call those officers to testify with no way of knowing there could be a police credibility issue that should be disclosed to the defense, according to Hillsborough County Attorney Dennis Hogan.

“That could be a problem if the defense finds out later,” said Hogan, whose list contains the names of only seven state police officers.
It’s one of a number of problems that continue to plague the system used to identify, track and disclose potentially dishonest police. Prosecutors are constitutionally obligated to turn over all material favorable evidence to the defense, including evidence of police dishonesty in confidential personnel files.

Deputy Attorney General Ann Rice responded when asked about the different numbers by email: “It may very well be that each county’s list reflects only the NHSP officers assigned to their respective counties, thus the discrepancy.”

Rice publicly acknowledged three years ago that she wasn’t aware that state police wasn’t reporting to each county as required even then.
A 2004 memo by former Attorney General Peter Heed that is used as the final authority on Laurie matters is clear that state police and other state departments with sworn personnel should report statewide.

“Because those officers are far more likely to appear as a witness in multiple counties, notification should be made to each of the ten county attorneys, and to the chief justice bureau of the attorney general’s office,” Heed wrote.

Prosecutors risk convictions being overturned if the disclosure failure is discovered later on. They could also face discipline for withholding information that is material and helpful to the defendant in egregious cases.

Convictions in New Hampshire have been threatened or overturned when police discipline relative to an officer’s truthfulness has been withheld – even many years later.
On Tuesday, convicted murderer Eduardo Lopez will argue that he should get a new trial because prosecutors failed to disclose before his trial decades ago that a Nashua police officer who provided testimony against him had previously been disciplined for lying.

A Hillsborough County road rage case was overturned in 2013 because discipline against a police officer who provided key testimony was not revealed before trial. In that case, prosecutors discovered the discipline a few weeks after the man was convicted.

Rice told the Commission on Use of Police Personnel Files on Wednesday that her office is updating the Heed memo.

The Heed memo was written after the 1995 state Supreme Court case state v. Laurie overturned Carl Laurie’s murder conviction because prosecutors allowed a police detective with a history of lying to provide key testimony at Laurie’s trial.

Heed listed Laurie issues as: lying in a court case, administrative hearing, internal investigation or police report; falsifying records; theft or fraud; egregious dereliction of duty; excessive force and mental instability.

The Attorney General’s Office doesn’t keep a complete master list of all Laurie officers, but it does have 94 names on a list it keeps for internal use. State prosecutors rely instead on sending letters to police departments asking about Laurie matters involving the officers who are going to testify in state cases.

InDepthNH.org reviewed the lists obtained from county attorneys through right-to-know requests in 2014, again in January, which were updated last week by email and phone. The officers’ names are all redacted and there is no standard way of keeping track of them.

InDepthNH.org estimated there are around 150 names on the most recent county lists, many of whom have likely left law enforcement, but there is no way to know for sure. Because the names are redacted and at least one county doesn’t maintain a list, there is no way to say if there are duplications.

There is also no way to determine if police chiefs are all reporting police discipline to prosecutors in the first place.

Steve Arnold, the state director for the New England Police Benevolent Association, told commission members that some chiefs don’t report Laurie officers to any entity.

“Some chiefs are very quick to put people on the Laurie list,” Arnold said. “Some chiefs won’t put anybody on the Laurie list because they know the ramifications.”

Laurie issues are interpreted and applied differently from department to department without due process, Arnold said.
“We just had a Superior Court judge who deemed the entire command staff of a police department uncredible. Not one of them was put on the Laurie list,” Arnold said.

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