In our blog we will try and give updates on the law and cases throughout New Hampshire, as well as interesting events that occur throughout the country.
NH updates law regarding confidentiality of police files
"A law change aimed at making sure prosecutors tell defendants if police officers set to testify against them have credibility problems went into effect virtually unnoticed five months ago, but it is quickly generating controversy as defense attorneys disagree with the state's interpretation."
"Giuda, an attorney who lost his seat in Tuesday's election, said he made changes to RSA 105:13-b because he passionately believes people accused of crimes should be informed if police personnel records contain information that could hurt an officer's credibility as a witness.""
Giuda said the old law was unconstitutional. Police and prosecutors had been relying on a 2004 memo by former Attorney General Peter Heed in determining what to turn over from police personnel records, Giuda said.
Now, if police and prosecutors fail to disclose such material - which includes lying under oath, theft, fraud or any conduct that could affect an officer's truthfulness - they will be in violation of state law, Giuda said." (Also called a Laurie issue)
"In the 1993 case State v. Laurie, a first-degree murder conviction against Carl Laurie was reversed after he was sentenced to life in prison because the state didn't tell the defense that the lead police detective's personnel file contained matters that called into question his truthfulness."
On Wednesday, Rice sent her analysis of the new law to the 10 county attorneys, who along with her office are responsible for maintaining confidential lists of police officers with potential Laurie matters and for disclosing relevant information to defendants.
Rice told them that it appears the law differentiates between exculpatory evidence and evidence in the 1972 U.S. Supreme Court case Giglio v. United States. The high court ordered a new trial in Giglio because the prosecution failed to tell jurors that a witness was promised he wouldn't be prosecuted in exchange for his testimony."
I have run into a few officers in the past who have Laurie issues. When an officer does have a Laurie issue, it certainly can put into question his credibility. An experienced New Hampshire Lawyer may know if the officer who arrested you has a Laurie issue.