CONCORD, N.H. - Today, the New Hampshire Superior Court ruled that the N.H. Department of Justice must produce a list of over 260 New Hampshire police officers who have engaged in misconduct that reflects negatively on their credibility or trustworthiness, known commonly as the Laurie List. This is an important victory in ensuring transparency and police accountability.
The Laurie List helps prosecutors flag information concerning officers with credibility and trustworthiness issues that may need to be disclosed to defendants in individual criminal cases. But there’s a glaring problem with the Laurie List: It’s secret. Actions that might cause an officer to be placed on the list include a deliberate lie during a court case, the falsification of records or evidence, any criminal conduct, and an egregious dereliction of duty.
Devon Chaffee, Executive Director of the ACLU of New Hampshire, said, “Granite Staters have proven time and again that they demand transparency from their government, and today’s victory is another step in the right direction. Keeping information secret, especially when it comes to police behavior and how prosecutors do their jobs, only creates distrust and suspicion that minimizes the hard work and dedication shown by the overwhelming majority of law enforcement professionals.”
Gilles Bissonnette, who argued this case in court, said, “Today’s decision is a historic victory for transparency and police accountability. These officers have engaged in sustained misconduct that concerns credibility and truthfulness, and the public has a clear right to this information—especially when it goes to the core of an officer’s ability to perform their duties. Police officers have no privacy interest with respect to their own misconduct. Meanwhile, there is tremendous public interest in disclosure. Without transparency, the public is left unaware of which officers in their towns have had issues concerning their truthfulness or credibility. Secrecy also means that defense lawyers have no way to verify whether state prosecutors are properly disclosing to defendants in criminal cases when a testifying officer has a credibility issue. We are thankful the Superior Court recognized that this list belongs to the public which funds the police.”
Gilles Bissonnette, the ACLU-NH’s Legal Director, and Gregory Sullivan of Malloy & Sullivan were lead counsel and argued the case. Also representing the petitioners are William Chapman or Orr & Reno, James Moir of Moir & Rabinowitz PLLC, and Henry Klementowicz of the ACLU-NH.
The lawsuit to release the Exculpatory Evidence Schedule (the formal name for the list) was filed by the ACLU of New Hampshire and seven media outlets across the state: the Concord Monitor, InDepthNH.com, Keene Sentinel, Nashua Telegraph, Seacoastonline.com, Union Leader, and Valley News.