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N.H. Police Unions, Newspapers, A.G., Agree On Bill To Make 'Laurie List' Public

A rare compromise between transparency advocates, police unions, and the state Attorney General may soon mean New Hampshire's secret list of police officers with credibility issues is no longer secret.

Lawmakers heard testimony Thursday on a new proposal designed to put to rest the controversy over the state's so-called "Laurie list" once and for all. The Laurie list, now known officially as the exculpatory evidence schedule, is a list of police officers in New Hampshire whose credibility may be called into question during a trial because of something in their personnel records.

[Learn more about the history of the Laurie List in the first season ofDocument]

Under the proposal, the list of roughly 270 officers would become a public document, but only after a six month period wherein those officers could contest their placement on the list by filing suit.

Groups typically on opposing sides of the issue all spoke in support of the new proposal, which was introduced as an amendment to an already existing House Bill 471.

“This amendment allows for due-process rights for law enforcement officers - something that has been elusive for years,” said Mark Morrison, president of the New Hampshire Police Association. “This amendment will allow for basic fairness for anyone on the list.”

“This is a strong proposal that not only addresses some of the concerns that we've heard from law enforcement but also addresses, frankly, the concerns of some transparency advocates like myself,” said Gilles Bissonnette, an attorney with the New Hampshire ACLU. “The public will get access to the names of all officers on the list who should be on the list.”

The amendment is sponsored by a bipartisan group of state senators and has the backing of incoming Attorney General John Formella. It mirrors a recommendation made by the Law Enforcement Accountability, Community, and Transparency commission, established by Gov. Chris Sununu in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

The bill still needs to win votes in the full House and Senate before heading to the governor's desk to become law.

If passed, the bill could put to rest an ongoing lawsuit between the state, the New Hampshire ACLU, and several media outlets over public access to the list.

Prosecutors are constitutionally obligated to turn that information on the Laurie list over to defendants under a U.S. Supreme Court case, Brady v. Maryland, and also a state Supreme Court case, State v. Laurie.

Jason Moon is a senior reporter and producer on the Document team. He has created longform narrative podcast series on topics ranging from unsolved murders, to presidential elections, to secret lists of police officers.

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