By DAMIEN FISHER, InDepthNH.org
The New Hampshire Supreme Court will decide if state Rep. Jon Stone, R-Claremont, can keep his police discipline record secret.
Stone’s appeal of a Sullivan County Superior Court order to release records from his days as a Claremont Police officer is now scheduled for a hearing on Nov. 14 in the state Supreme Court in Concord.
As well as being a state Representative, Stone is an elected member of the Claremont City Council.
Stone has been fighting the right-to-know request made by this reporter for more than three years. Stone was fired from the Claremont department in 2006 under circumstances that were never made public.
In January, Judge Martin Honigberg ruled that the Claremont Police Department’s internal affairs record on Stone can be released, but the release was stayed pending the appeal.
Honigberg first ordered the records released last October, ruling that at least 10 of Stone’s internal affairs reports, and the correspondence between the Claremont Police Department and the New Hampshire Police Standards and Training Council, ought to be public.
This reporter first filed a right-to-know request in June of 2020 seeking Stone’s records, and Claremont officials were set to release them when Stone took the city to court. Stone has been attempting to keep the investigations into his actions as a police officer, and the possible reasoning for his firing from the department, hidden from the public.
The New Hampshire American Civil Liberties Union and the New Hampshire Union Leader inserted themselves into the legal dispute, filing nearly identical right-to-know requests months after this reporter. The ACLU originally offered to represent this reporter, but was turned down.
Months of back and forth between Stone and Claremont’s attorney Shawn Tanguay followed Honigberg’s October order. One of the sticking points was whether or not to make public the age of one of the people involved in Stone’s internal affairs reports. The records indicate the person in question was a minor at the time of the report.
According to records obtained through the 5th Circuit Court, District Division in Claremont, Stone was subject to a domestic violence protection order, filed by a Claremont woman in September of 2006. The order was withdrawn two weeks later. The exact details of the domestic violence case are unknown, as the record beyond the court docket has been destroyed, according to court officials. The woman who filed the domestic violence complaint has refused to comment.
The city originally complied with this reporter’s right-to-know request in August of 2020, sending a letter stating that Stone was the subject of 11 internal affairs investigations that found sustained allegations of misconduct, according to a letter sent by then-Claremont City Manager Ed Morris.
In court, it has been learned there are at least 14 internal affairs reports on record, some dealing with Stone’s actions while on duty as a police officer, and some dealing with his actions while off-duty.
Stone has argued that at least four of these reports should never be public, as he and the union representing Claremont police officers negotiated a deal with the department that would have his personnel records purged in exchange for his termination.
Stone is no longer certified to work as a police officer in New Hampshire. He worked for years as a prison guard in the state of Vermont, and he co-owns a gun shop in Claremont.
Stone’s name has not appeared on the state’s Laurie List, or Exculpatory Evidence Schedule. The Laurie List maintains the names of police officers with known credibility problems. Many names on the list are currently being withheld from the public due to court challenges.