N.H. Supreme Court Set to Hear 'Laurie List' Oral Arguments | New Hampshire Public Radio

N.H. Supreme Court Set to Hear 'Laurie List' Oral Arguments

Sep 15, 2020

Credit Appleswitch via Flickr Creative Commons

New Hampshire’s highest court will hear oral arguments Wednesday on whether a secret list of police officers with credibility issues should be released to the public.

A group of media companies led by the N.H. Center for Public Interest Journalism, as well as the ACLU of New Hampshire, sued in 2018 for the release of the Exculpatory Evidence Schedule, better known as the "Laurie List." 

Maintained by the state since 1995, the list contains the names of approximately 250 officers whose testimony in criminal cases could be called into question due to credibility concerns. 

The Attorney General’s office, as well as unions that represent law enforcement officers, oppose the release of the list, arguing that it is a confidential personnel file and therefore exempt from the state’s Right to Know statute.

Redacted versions of the list are periodically released to the public, displaying the department where the officer was employed and a short, often single-word explanation for why the officer is included. It isn’t clear which police officers on the list maintain employment with departments in New Hampshire, or if they are still alive. 

In April 2019, Superior Court Judge Charles Temple ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, writing that the list “is not a personnel file within the meaning of the statute” because there is no employer-employee relationship between the officers, who work for local or state police departments, and the Department of Justice, which maintains the list.

He added that the state’s Right-to-Know law is meant to ensure “the greatest possible public access” to governmental records.

Advocates for police reform praised that ruling, saying that keeping the list private created suspicion. 

Earlier this year, a statewide commission on police accountability created by Gov. Chris Sununu in the wake of the killing of George Floyd released a report recommending the Laurie List be made public, on the condition that all officers on this list are notified and have the opportunity to request a hearing for removal.