AG investigating potential 'Laurie' issue involving Nashua chief
By NANCY WEST New Hampshire Sunday News
The state is looking into a complaint filed against Nashua Police Chief John Seusing alleging he may have had credibility issues that could have affected his ability to testify at trial, according to Associate Attorney General Jane Young.
Law enforcement officers disciplined for behavior that could negatively reflect on their truthfulness, such as lying under oath, are said to have potential "Laurie'' issues. In such cases, the officers' confidential disciplinary record could be turned over to the defense to possibly impeach their testimony at trial.
Young said whenever her office gets a complaint against any police officer "that could be a potential Laurie issue or impeachment or exculpatory matters, we are bound to look at it."
"We now have one in regards to Chief Seusing and are going to review it to determine if there are any ethical or constitutional obligations. We certainly understand our obligation under the case law," Young said.
Seusing denied having a Laurie issue last week, but on Thursday declined further comment.
Last week, Seusing said, "I will tell you that at no time have I (had) a Laurie issue. I might have had a minor issue when I was new on the job over 28 years ago."
Anthony Pivero, a retired Nashua police officer with a history of butting heads with the police administration, said he is the one who filed the complaint against Seusing after the chief recently made comments in a newspaper to the effect that police officers with a Laurie issue would likely not work at the Nashua Police Department.
Pivero, who retired in 2003, insisted he has no ax to grind against Seusing, but was concerned because Seusing was the lead investigator in the Michael Monroe murder case. Monroe was convicted of stabbing to death his mother-in-law, Theresa Levesque, on March 6, 1993. Monroe confessed to Seusing and others about a year and a half later, but later said he was terrorized into confessing.
If a law enforcement officer has a Laurie issue that isn't disclosed to the defense before trial, it could have serious consequences. County attorneys keep a list of officers with potential Laurie issues, but they are held in strict confidence.
The Laurie case itself stems from the state Supreme Court decision that reversed Carl Laurie's first-degree murder conviction because the defense was not told before trial that the lead police investigator was known to be dishonest. Laurie ultimately pleaded guilty to second-degree murder.
Pivero, a former police union president, said he was targeted by the Nashua police administration for years after he arrested Alan Rudman, the son of former U.S. Sen. Warren Rudman, for drunken driving in 1994, then publicly criticized the department when the charge was reduced to speeding.
Pivero was accused of witness tampering in 1997 for telling his ex-wife not to talk about him to state police investigators during a taped conversation, but a jury found him innocent after briefly deliberating.
Michael Ramsdell prosecuted Monroe when he was at the Attorney General's Office, and is skeptical of the complaint against Seusing.
Ramsdell, who is now in private practice in Concord, said Nashua police were very forthcoming when he asked for any credibility issues involving the police officers who were going to testify at Monroe's trial.
He specifically remembered that Nashua police brought a very minor issue regarding a different police officer to his attention, something another police department may not have even flagged as a potential problem.
"We disclosed it to the defense, and they didn't use it. It had nothing to do with Chief Seusing," Ramsdell said.
He doubts there was any Laurie issue with Seusing.
"For whatever reason, the Monroe case has been a cause for some people for some time," Ramsdell said.
Ramsdell said he wasn't sure whether Seusing testified at Monroe's trial.
Monroe was found guilty of second-degree murder and sentenced to 40 years to life in prison.