Judge rules to keep officers on Laurie list
MANCHESTER — Three Manchester police officers this week filed a motion asking Hillsborough County Superior Court North Judge David Garfunkel to reconsider his rejection of their request to have their names taken off the so-called "Laurie list" that county prosecutors maintain.
Police officers on the Laurie list are considered to have credibility issues as a result of incidents in their police careers and defense attorneys need to be informed if the officers were involved in the investigation or are to testify in their client's trial. The information presumably could help the defense.
The three officers, and a fourth officer who retired shortly after the March 3, 2010 incident at the Strange Brew Tavern, 88 Market St., were off duty at the time Christopher Micklovich said they beat him severely, causing multiple broken facial bones and leaving him with sight issues and post traumatic stress.
Jonathan Duchesne, Matthew Jajuga, Michael Buckley and Lt. Ernie Goodno argued Micklovich was drunk and disorderly, insulted a patron, refused to leave the tavern, damaged property and appeared ready to assault the owner when they sought to remove and arrest him.
Micklovich was initially charged with disorderly conduct, criminal mischief, resisting arrest and assault on a police officer, but the charges were eventually dropped.
Chief David Mara originally supported his officers, but after internal and criminal investigations conducted in-house, Mara suspended the three officers still working and wrote to then-Hillsborough County Attorney Robert Walsh, asking to have the officers placed on the Laurie list.
An investigation by the New Hampshire Attorney General's Office determined in July 2010 that the officers had not used excessive force.
The officers' union sought arbitration under their contract and the arbitrator ruled in January 2012 that the city did not have "just cause to take disciplinary action … (the officers') grievances are sustained."
The officers got the pay they lost while suspended and, most important to them, the information about the incident was removed from their personnel files as if the incident had never occurred.
Mara wrote to the new county attorney, Dennis Hogan, this time asking to have the officers' names removed from the Laurie list. Mara said he would have been a hypocrite if he didn't make the request.
But Hogan refused to remove the names, writing in February 2012 that the arbitrator's judgment that the officers did not use excessive force "does not change the following facts: There is an injured party and witnesses that saw what looked to them as three men beating a fourth man outside a bar. … there is a sustained complaint of excessive use of force."
Although the AG had found the officers did not use excessive force, then Attorney General Michael Delaney declined to order the county attorney to remove the names after the arbitrator's ruling.
Meanwhile, Micklovich filed suit against the city in U.S. District Court and, after negotiations, the city settled with Micklovich in mid-May 2012, paying him $200,000.
Current Hillsborough County Attorney Patricia LaFrance has also refused to remove the three officers' names from the county's Laurie list, which prompted the officers' request for a judge to order her to do so.
In paperwork and at a hearing Sept. 5 before Judge David Garfunkel, the attorney for the officers, John Krupski, argued the reason for putting the officers' names on the list no longer exists and so they should not be on it.
But Associate Attorney General Jane Young, who was not a party to the action but participated in the hearing, said it wouldn't matter what Garfunkel ruled.
"I know it and I'm going to turn it over every time until the Supreme Court tells me differently," she said. Young said prosecutors have to notify the courts and leave it to judges to decide wether the officer's credibility issue can be used at trial.
Krupski told the judge: "It's a stigma that follows you. People think you are a liar."
Garfunkel's decision, issued Nov. 20, denied the officers' request that LaFrance be ordered to remove their names from the list.
The officers' attorney filed a motion for reconsideration Dec. 2, suggesting the judge "misapprehended and/or overlooked" a number of issues and points of law and again requested the judge issue a permanent injunction prohibiting LaFrance from designating the officers' participation in the Strange Brew incident "a so-called Laurie issue."
(New Hampshire Sunday News Reporter Nancy West contributed to this report.)