Troopers: DA Hogan wrong about lawsuit
WEST CHESTER >> Chester County District Attorney Tom Hogan has mischaracterized the intent of an extraordinary lawsuit brought against him by members of the Pennsylvania State Police Troopers Association seeking to bar him from unilaterally placing its member of so-called “do not call lists” in the future, according to a response filed this month to his motion to dismiss the legal action.
“Whether deliberately or not,” Hogan misstated what position the trooper’s union is asking Judge Edward Griffith to decide, according to the brief filed by Harrisburg attorney Sean Welby on behalf of the union and former Trooper Brandan Daniels.
“The cause of action is not grounded in any matter regarding the discretion of the District Attorney in his unfettered choice to call or not call any witness in any prosecution,” the memo reads. “(The union and Daniels) would never suggest otherwise.”
Rather, the case was brought to prohibit Hogan from including the names of police officers deemed too untrustworthy to testify in a criminal prosecution on the county without giving them the formal opportunity to object to their names being placed on such a “do not call” list.
Putting an officers names on such a list is detrimental to the officers’ constitutional right to maintain his or her reputation, even if the only people who know of the list are prosecutors in the DA’s Office or other police officials, Welby wrote in his memo.
The union attorney also said that Hogan’s request to dismiss Daniels’ claim as moot was insufficient, since the former trooper continues to work in law enforcement. He is now the supervising officer at the Owen J. Roberts Schol District in northern Chester County.
Griffith must now decide whether to accept Hogan’s request to dismiss the lawsuit or allow it to proceed.
The lawsuit has had the unintended consequences of bringing to light not only the dispute between Daniels and Hogan over the shooting but also the existence of a “no call list” kept by the county DA’s Office. The latter came as news to defense attorneys practicing in the county, many said.
Hogan disclosed the list’s existence in a 16-page memo to the acting commissioner of the state police, Lt. Col. Robert Evanchick; the commander of the PSP Troop J, Capt. James Fisher; and the state director of Homeland Security, Marcus L. Brown, that was highly critical of the state police’s handling of the May shooting involving a suspected drunk driver who tried to flee from state police in London Grove.
Such lists are kept by some law enforcement agencies as a way to protect against tainted testimony being given in court by police whose credibility has been called into dispute. Hogan, a former Assistant U.S. Attorney, refers to them as “Giglio” lists — after the federal case that established that a witness’s presence on a “do not call” list must be made known to defendants — and notes that they have been used by the U.S Department of Justice “for decades.”
In his memo, Hogan identified only Daniels, and former Troopers Jose LeBron and John Sromovsky, both of whom were convicted of criminal offenses, as being the only state troopers included on the list. He did not specify how many police officers are on the list, except to note that being blackballed in this way, “happens very infrequently in Chester County.”
Daniels and the troopers union filed suit against Hogan in September asking the court to direct Hogan to allow any troopers whose names were set to go on the list an opportunity to present reasons why that action should not be taken. The suit said not doing so deprives them of their constitutional rights.