NHCLU considers options over Nashua chief's disclosure issue from 1986Staff Report
February 18. 2014 8:05PM
The New Hampshire Civil Liberties Union is weighing its next move now that Hillsborough County Attorney Patricia M. LaFrance told them she cannot fully comply with its request to review 18 years of criminal cases in which a former Nashua police chief once disciplined for lying testified without defendants knowing it.
"This is something that is obviously troubling to the New Hampshire Civil Liberties Union. We are weighing our options as to what...our next steps should be," New Hampshire Civil Liberties Union staff attorney Gilles Bissonnette said Tuesday.
The NHCLU and New Hampshire Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys wrote LaFrance and New Hampshire Associate Attorney General Jane E. Young letters dated Dec. 20 asking them to identify all cases they handled between 1986 to present in which former Nashua police Chief John Seusing testified and if the defendants knew Seusing had been disciplined for lying in 1986.
Prosecutors have a constitutional obligation to notify defendants of all evidence favorable to them, including police discipline involving dishonesty, according to the New Hampshire Attorney General.
In a letter to Bissonnette dated Jan. 28, LaFrance wrote that her office has "made every reasonable attempt to obtain" the information the NHCLU is seeking under the state's Right-to-Know law (RSA 91-A).
"While (the law) does not require the County Attorney's office to compile, cross-reference or assemble information into a form in which it is not already kept, I am aware of the keen public interest in this matter and want to ensure the public we are making a diligent effort to retrieve the information requested," LaFrance wrote.
New Hampshire Attorney General Joseph A. Foster last summer ruled a complaint Seusing was unfounded. The investigation revealed Seusing was suspended for 15 days for lying to his superiors, but that he corrected himself on his own.
"Our intention is to answer their request the best way possible, and we are still trying to ascertain the best course to answer those questions," Associate Attorney General Jane E. Young said Tuesday.
The Attorney General's office already notified three convicted murderers that their convictions were based at least in part on Seusing's testimony. They are Eduardo Lopez Jr., Timothy Brown and Ronald Schultz.
Young said her office still is reviewing white-collar crime and illicit-drug cases dating back to 1986 to determine if Seusing was a witness or testified in any of them.