‘Laurie List’ Compromise Bill Passes, Governor Will Sign It

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Screen shot of one page of the April 2020 Laurie List of dishonest police officers.

By NANCY WEST, InDepthNH.org

CONCORD – The House passed the amended version of House Bill 471 Thursday that promises to make public the Laurie List of dishonest police with some caveats and Gov. Chris Sununu’s spokesman said the governor will sign it into law.

House Bill 471 as amended requires police disciplinary hearings to be open to the public unless certain confidential information may be revealed and authorizes the Department of Justice to maintain an exculpatory evidence schedule, also known as the Laurie List.

The Laurie List amendment was a compromise hammered out in negotiations between the Attorney General’s Office and ACLU-NH along with five news outlets that signed on in an attempt to settle a public records lawsuit against the attorney general to release the list. It contains 280 plus redacted names of sworn officers with credibility or excessive force issues. While legislators, police unions and the five news outlets agreed to the compromise, the lead plaintiff, New Hampshire Center for Public Interest Journalism opposed the legislation.

The Keene Sentinel, the Nashua Telegraph, Seacoast Newspapers, the New Hampshire Union Leader and the Concord Monitor back the compromise language. Judge Charles Temple gave the state and ACLU-NH until July 1 to see if the legislature passed the bill.

The parties, except the New Hampshire Center for Public Interest Journalism, argue the lawsuit is moot if House Bill 471 becomes law.

In Hillsborough County Superior Court South, Judge Temple ruled two years ago that the Laurie List is a public document, but the state appealed to the state Supreme Court, which also ruled the list is public, but remanded it back to Temple to determine if the police on the list have privacy rights.

Gilles Bissonnette, legal director of ACLU-NH, previously said: “All of this was done in the hope to resolve the public disclosure on the EES (Laurie List) once and for all. I believe this amendment as well is consistent with the LEACT commission recommendations concerning the EES.”

Bissonnette withdrew last fall from representing the New Hampshire Center for Public Interest Journalism. It is now represented by attorney Andru Volinsky.

Volinsky filed an objection to the motion to delay the lawsuit saying under the amendment, any officer on the list could tie up the release of his or her listing by filing litigation that presents a due process claim and prevent release of the listing until that litigation is completed, which could take years.

“Finally, as if all of the tilting towards the listed officer were not enough, the whole EES (Laurie List) is made completely discretionary” by the amendment, Volinsky wrote.

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