A law professor who studies the use of pseudonyms, like “John Doe” in lawsuits, has filed to intervene in the New Hampshire case of a former Lisbon police officer who wants to get off the “Laurie list” before his name is made public.
Dozens of police officers and former officers have challenged their placement on the list, the list of police officers with credibility issues formally called the Exculpatory Evidence Schedule, which is slowly being released to the public.
Not all of the names of officers on the list have been made public: Some are using a process outlined in the state law that made the long-secret list public and are suing to remove themselves.
New Hampshire Attorney General John Formella announced in January that 38 lawsuits had been filed by officers trying to get off the list. Most of the lawsuits have been filed under seal, but some involve officers who are using the pseudonym “John Doe” as they seek to keep their names from being released as part of the now-public Laurie list.
One of those John Doe cases, “John Doe v. Town of Lisbon & New Hampshire Department of Justice,” popped up in Prof. Eugene Volokh’s court document search query for “John Doe” cases.
Volokh filed a motion in federal court last week asking a judge to remove the seal from the case, and make everyone involved litigate under their real names.
The complaint alleges a former Lisbon officer, known only as John Doe, was fired, lost his certification and was placed on the list because the chief did not like him, or as retaliation for past complaints.
“It is the right and duty of the people to hold public officials accountable and to supervise their actions (including the actions of courts),” Volokh’s motion argues. “This task becomes much harder when the identities of the key actors are concealed.”
Volokh said in an email he wonders if it is right that lawsuits filed by police to remove themselves from the list should be kept under seal, and is asking federal judges to unseal them.
“Depending on how broadly the court rules, this might also help set a precedent for unsealing some of the state-court cases challenging Laurie List designations,” Volokh said in an email.