I sent the following Letter to the Editor to the Union Leader last week in honor of national Sunshine Week. Since they failed to publish it, I’m posting it below. If you are wondering what the legal ramifications of Governor Sununu’s “stay-at-home” “order,” you can read his own take HERE (this quote from Chris lightened my concerns significantly, “I want to be clear, though. We are not shutting down our state, sheltering in place, or closing our borders. No state has taken such actions nor does any Governor have the authority to do so.”), the Attorney General’s memo to law enforcement HERE (they have discretion, it’s a misdemeanor, and you will be arrested under “disorderly conduct”–if you get arrested, let me know!), an article about that discretion and law enforcement’s duty to inform HERE, and the Union Leader’s editor’s take, “Questioning authority: A healthy thing even in crisis.”
It’s Sunshine Week when we typically celebrate government transparency and openness. Given the government’s COVID-reaction, our rights are at risk. Before law enforcement knocks on your door, wouldn’t you like to know who to trust?
The Attorney General keeps a list of officers who have been identified by their own police chiefs as having “sustained findings of misconduct.” This list is kept secret from the public.
Yes, you read that right.
The AG keeps a list of suspect LEOs called the Exculpatory Evidence Schedule (formerly the “Laurie’s List”) with about 260 officers’ names on it, all blacked out, with only their departments and misdeeds viewable: falsification of records or evidence; lying in court; egregious dereliction of duty; and excessive use of force.
In April 2019, a judge ordered the list’s disclosure, stating it was “not confidential,” “not exempt from disclosure under RSA 91-A,” and that it is in the public interest to know who these officers are. Doh! Instead of releasing the list, the AG appealed at our expense to maintain its secrecy. Double doh!
Secrecy creates distrust and suspicion, undermining faith and confidence in government and law enforcement. As today’s paper stated: “Trust in public institutions relies on our ability to shine sunlight wherever we find shadows.”
Almost 1,000 Granite Staters signed an online petition started by Right-to-Know NH, a statewide nonpartisan coalition of open government advocates, asking Governor Sununu to end the appeal and release the uncensored list. Banish the shadows, Governor, and help us restore trust!