Today the New Hampshire Supreme Court will be hearing oral arguments in a case regarding release of the so called “Laurie List” or more formally the “Exculpatory Evidence Schedule.”
In short, this is a list of police officers who have some conduct that has raised credibility issues. The list is maintained by the New Hampshire Attorney General’s office so that criminal defendants in cases involving these cops can be properly notified of that fact in preparing their defense.
The plaintiffs in this case include a number of New Hampshire news outlets (including this newspaper) and the New Hampshire ACLU.
We have long argued that police officers are engaged in public work and information such as the names on the Laurie List should rightly be considered public information. A Superior Court judge generally agreed with that assessment but the Attorney General’s office has appealed to the Supreme Court. They argue that the list falls under the “personnel” file exemption to the Right-to-Know Law.
This is absurd, the list is not an individual officer’s personnel file but a list of individuals with issues significant enough that due process for defendants requires disclosure. Not knowing who these officers are, their alleged infractions, and where they may currently be working undermines the credibility of all the good, hard-working police officers in the state. Public trust in police is at a crucial juncture. Making this list public will help to rebuild faith from the distrust that secrecy has created.