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The Laurie List: Due process is protected

May 24. 2018 8:09PM

Criminal defendants deserve access to evidence that may exonerate them, including questions about the credibility of the police officers accusing them.

But that does not give defendants the right to smear police officers with unfounded charges.

Since 1994, the New Hampshire Attorney General’s office has maintained the Exculpatory Evidence Schedule, commonly known as the Laurie List. Police departments must report officers found to lack credibility, who use excessive force, or have other disciplinary issues to the attorney general. The AG must then disclose that information to defense attorneys in cases where those officers were part of the investigation.

Many police departments were not complying with the rules, prompting Attorney General Gordon MacDonald to update his Laurie List guidance.

Today, defense attorney Robin Melone takes issue with MacDonald’s memo arguing the new guidance prevents defendants from finding out about police officers under investigation.

MacDonald’s memo does not diminish due process. It establishes it. By setting a clear set of rules by which police departments and prosecutors must play, defendants will be provided with possible exculpatory evidence. But they will not be able to use unfounded accusations to discredit police officers.

Crime, law and justice Public Safety Editorial

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