Petition of Doe, 080620 NHSC, 2019-0705

Docket Nº:2019-0705
Party Name:Petition of John Doe,
Judge Panel:HICKS, BASSETT, HANTZ MARCONI, and DONOVAN, JJ., concurred.
Case Date:August 06, 2020
Court:Supreme Court of New Hampshire

Petition of John Doe,

No. 2019-0705

Supreme Court of New Hampshire

August 6, 2020

Having considered the briefs and oral arguments of the parties, the court concludes that a formal written opinion is unnecessary in this case. The petitioner, a police officer, seeks review pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 11 (Petition for Original Jurisdiction) of an order issued by the Circuit Court (Steckowych, J.) after the court conducted an in camera review of a file relating to an internal police department investigation into the petitioner's conduct. We affirm.

The following summary of the case is relevant to our analysis. The petitioner was scheduled to testify on the State's behalf during a criminal case in the district division of the circuit court. Although the precise timing is unclear from the record before us, in the months leading up to trial, the trial court conducted an in camera review of a file relating to an internal police department investigation into the petitioner's conduct.1 The court determined that the file contained exculpatory evidence; accordingly, it ordered that portions of the file be disclosed to the defendant. See RSA 105:13-b (2013); State v. Laurie, 139 N.H. 325, 327, 333 (1995).

Approximately two weeks before trial, the petitioner filed a motion in limine addressing the investigation file. The petitioner argued that he had been improperly placed on the Attorney General's "Exculpatory Evidence Schedule" (EES).2 The petitioner asked the court: (1) to find that the file "is not exculpatory, and does not contain Laurie, Brady, or Giglio matter";[3] (2) to "[i]ssue an order prohibiting the disclosure of this information in any future litigation"; and (3) to "[g]rant such other and further relief as is deemed just and necessary." The court denied the motion, ruling that the officer's placement on the EES was justified. The court noted that it had previously reviewed the investigation file, and had previously determined that that file contained exculpatory evidence. The petitioner filed a motion to reconsider, which the court denied. The petitioner then filed this petition for original jurisdiction pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 11.

The petitioner argues that, because the trial court failed to consider the underlying facts in the investigation file, the trial court erred in ruling that his name should remain on the EES. The petitioner asserts that his name should be removed from the EES because the investigation file does not contain sufficient evidence to support a finding that the file is exculpatory.

The State argues that we should deny the petition because the circuit court did not have subject matter jurisdiction to grant the equitable relief sought by the petitioner. Alternatively, the State argues that, if we conclude that the circuit court had jurisdiction, we should affirm on the merits because the investigation file contains exculpatory evidence justifying the petitioner's placement on the EES.

Although the petitioner did not file a reply brief responding to the State's jurisdictional argument, the issue of jurisdiction was discussed at length during oral argument. We agree with the State that, to the extent that the petitioner requested equitable relief - such as an order that he be removed from the EES maintained by the Attorney General, and prohibiting disclosure of the investigation file in...

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