Troop­ers: DA Ho­gan wrong about law­suit

The Phoenix - - NEWS - By Michael P. Rel­la­han mrel­la­[email protected]­tu­ry­

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.

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