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January 08. 2014 7:37PM

NHACLU asks county attorney to rethink Laurie List stance

MANCHESTER — The New Hampshire Civil Liberties Union has asked that Hillsborough County Attorney Patricia LaFrance reconsider her decision not to notify defendants in cases in which John Seusing testified years before he became Nashua’s police chief, unlike state prosecutors who recently disclosed decades-old discipline action to three convicted murderers.

An August review cleared Seusing of allegations that he was disciplined in the mid-1980s for fabricating a report and providing false testimony. In a news release, the Attorney General’s office said its investigation found that Seusing was suspended for 15 days for lying to his superiors in that same case, then corrected himself on his own.

Prosecutors have a constitutional obligation to notify defendants of all evidence favorable to them, including police discipline involving dishonesty, according to the state Attorney General.

In 1995, the state Supreme Court overturned the murder conviction of Carl Laurie because the Attorney General’s Office knew, but never told the defense, that a key police investigator who testified was known to be dishonest. The state’s so-called “Laurie list” comprises police officers with potential credibility issues.

LaFrance said in October that poring through the “thousands” of files would not be worth taxpayers’ money.

“While your Office’s concern with expense is understandable, we strongly urge your Office to recognize the apparent failure for nearly thirty years to disclose potentially exculpatory evidence and focus your energies on how this injustice can be corrected,” Gilles Bisonnette, an NHCLU attorney wrote to LaFrance in a Dec. 20 letter.

Associate Attorney General Jane Young said in October that it was LaFrance’s decision whether to disclose the discipline in prior cases prosecuted by the county, but Bisonnette disagreed.

“Respectfully, your Office does not get to choose, on its own, whether this information is material. That decision rests with the defendants themselves, defense counsel, and ultimately the court,” Bisonnette wrote.

tbuckland@unionleader.com


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