See the Attorney General’s February 2023 compliance report and most recent Laurie List here.
The names of two more police officers have been added to the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Exculpatory Evidence Schedule’s public list, also known as the Laurie List, though it is unclear if the new public disclosures are entirely intentional.
The New Hampshire Department of Justice Exculpatory Evidence Schedule compliance report released Wednesday states that the names of 190 police officers placed on the list are now public, up from 188 names made public on the November 2022 compliance report. However, one of the new names on the list appears to have been released inadvertently.
Former State Trooper Nathan Buell is currently suing the state over his placement on the list, claiming that his superiors wanted him out after learning about his PTSD diagnosis. Buell, a former Navy combat veteran who served in Afghanistan, claims in the lawsuit he was forced by supervisors to admit lying about minor tasks like polishing his belt buckle, or trying on a bulletproof vest. He was then pushed to resign, and placed on the EES, according to the lawsuit.
Buell’s lawsuit against the New Hampshire State Police is still pending in court, according to the compliance report. However, his name was published on the list. Buell could not be reached for comment Wednesday. Representatives for the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office dealing with EES issues were unavailable Wednesday evening.
The other new name on the list is former State Police Captain John Hennessey. The EES list indicates Hennessey was placed on the list in 2009, though the reason is unknown. Hennessey retired last year as a captain assigned to a position as a field commander based on Concord.
There are 263 police officers currently on the EES for issues that could impact their credibility like excessive force, falsifying evidence, or lying. The entire list was secret for decades until a change in the state law in September 2021 making the names public after all of the people on the list had the opportunity to file a lawsuit in Superior Court arguing why their names should be removed.
The names of the officers challenging their placement in court are not made public pending the outcome of their litigation, and their cases are filed under seal in court.
So far, more than 70 police officers have notified the Department of Justice they plan to pursue lawsuits to clear their names, and there are currently 40 pending lawsuits active in the Superior Courts, according to data from the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office.
There are eight cases on appeal to the state Supreme Court, and 20 of the cases have been dismissed. Most of the dismissed cases are still within a timeframe in which the officers could appeal, though five of those officers have dropped their cases.
Of all the officers who have so far challenged their placement, two have succeeded and their names have been removed from the EES since the new law went into effect.
That doesn’t include the 30 names that have been removed under the confidential attorney general’s protocol or the names of corrections officers in state prison and county jails that were found to be not eligible for the list under the new law.
The names on the list are important to criminal defendants who may have a right to seek a new trial if a dishonest police officer testified against him or her without having it be disclosed, even for long past cases.
The Laurie List is supposed to contain the names of officers with sustained discipline for dishonesty or excessive force in their confidential personnel files that could impact their truthfulness while testifying at trial. The list is meant to alert prosecutors in cases that should be disclosed to criminal defendants who are constitutionally guaranteed all evidence that is favorable to them. That could include the names of police with credibility problems who are going to testify against them.
The current law which releases some of the names is the result of a compromise between the attorney general and ACLU-NH and five newspapers that sued in a public records lawsuit to have all the names on the list made public. The lead plaintiff in the case, the New Hampshire Center for Public Interest Journalism, which publishes InDepthNH.org, did not accept the deal and continues to pursue its case. New Hampshire Center for Public Interest Journalism believes the compromise still leaves New Hampshire residents in the dark about the working of the EES.