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NEWFANE — Two Windham County sheriff’s deputies are bemoaning the lack of due process after learning they were on a list recently released by the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office that contains the names of law enforcement personnel who may have lied or falsified information presented to a court.

The Exculpatory Evidence Schedule, also known as the Laurie List, contains the names of current or former officers whose credibility could be called into question during a trial because of something listed in their personnel records.

There are about 270 people on the Laurie List, but the release from last week only contained about 80 names.

Three of those on the list were former officers with the Hinsdale, N.H., Police Department — David Eldridge, Bryan Jalava and Louis Yelle — and Eldridge and Jalava are currently employed by the Windham County Sheriff’s Office.

Eldridge is on the list for “truthfulness” for an incident that occurred while he was a Hinsdale police officer. The date of the incident is listed as “unknown.”

Jalava is on the list for “dereliction of duty,” also at the Hinsdale Police Department for an incident that occurred at an unknown time.

Officers are added to the Laurie List by police chiefs after internal investigations into allegations of misconduct.

According to Hinsdale Police Chief Charles Rataj, Jalava and Yelle were not on the Hinsdale roster when he took over the department in March 2020. Eldridge was on the roster then, but left shorlty thereafter. Rataj had no comment on their time of service with the Hinsdale Police Department.

Both men were sworn in as deputies with the Windham County Sheriff’s Office in April 2020.

Deputy David Eldridge told the Reformer via email that he learned he was on the list about a year after leaving Hinsdale.

“There has not been any due process whatsoever to even argue or defend myself,” wrote Eldridge.

Eldridge had little to say other than he and other officers in Hinsdale resigned of their own free will due to “some serious credibility issues we have, and still do, starting at the top down that none of us wanted to be part of.”

Corporal Bryan Jalava, the field training office for the Windham County Sheriff’s Office, said he first learned he was on the list a few weeks ago after being notified by the N.H. Attorney General. He said he would have liked to have known that he was on the list back in 2018 when his name was added.

“There was no due process to being added to the list,” Jalava wrote in an email to the Reformer. “No notification from the party requesting my addition to the list, no hearing or opportunity to present my own evidence or testimony, and no notification once on the list or what it was even for. To this date, I still have no information on the alleged circumstances concerning my addition to the EES list.”

Jalava said “it’s bizarre” that domestic abusers, child molesters and murderers “are protected and privileged to civil liberties and due process but law enforcement officers not having committed a criminal act in the state of New Hampshire are not.”

He believes the list has been “egregiously abused/misused,” noting he was on the list but he was not terminated by the Hinsdale Police Department, nor did he lose his law enforcement certification.

Yelle is on the list, also for “truthfulness” for an incident that was investigated by the DOJ in June 2018. The Reformer was unsuccessful in attempting to contact Yelle for comment.

The Laurie List was released after years of litigation by news organizations and the American Civil Liberties Union.

In April 2021, the N.H. Legislature approved HB 471, “relative to police disciplinary hearings and authorizing the department of justice to maintain an exculpatory evidence schedule.” In August, Gov. Chris Sununu signed it into law and in September, the N.H. Attorney General’s Office began the process of releasing the list by notifying officers they were on the list. To have their names removed, officers have to file suit. Officers added before April 30, 2018 have six months to file lawsuits; those added later have a three-month window.

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It is expected that an updated list will be released periodically and that all 270 names on the list will eventually be revealed.

Windham County Sheriff Mark Anderson told the Reformer that as soon as he received the list he placed Eldridge and Jalava on duties that don’t require law enforcement authority, such as traffic detail or transporting people in custody.

“I am not suspending them, but I am limiting their law enforcement authority,” he said, adding that he has launched an internal investigation based on the new information.

Before hiring a deputy, Anderson conducts a background check and a psychological evaluation, as well as a polygraph test.

“We do a very deep review of their prior employment history,” said Anderson.

He also attempts to check all references and talk with prior supervisors or police chiefs, “When they are willing to respond,” he said.

According to information posted on the website of the John W. King New Hampshire Law Library, exculpatory evidence may include information that shows that a law enforcement officer lacks credibility as a witness. This type of information is often kept in protected personnel files.

The list is named after Carl Laurie, whose murder conviction was overturned in 1995 after one of the lead detectives on his case was found to have credibility issues that were not shared with Laurie’s defense attorneys.

The list alerts prosecutors to the need to inquire into whether an officer’s personnel file might contain exculpatory evidence.

However, being on the list does not mean that an officer is necessarily untrustworthy or dishonest. It only means that there is information in the officer’s personnel file that must be disclosed to a criminal defendant if the facts of the case warrant that disclosure.

Factors that may result in an officer being included on the list are a deliberate lie during a court case, administrative hearing, other official proceeding, in a police report, or in an internal investigation; falsification of records or evidence; criminal conduct; egregious dereliction of duty; excessive use of force; or mental illness or instability.

Both Anderson and Rataj told the Reformer they have concerns about the list, how it was assembled and what forms of due process were taken before an officer was placed on the list.

“We might be flagging individuals who have not had an opportunity to present their case,” said Anderson.

“There are people on that list that deserve to be there,” said Rataj. But the inclusion of others is not explained by the meager details contained in the list, he said.

Windham County State’s Attorney Tracy Shriver said she is aware of the partial release of the list.

“Prosecutors have an obligation imposed by the United States’ Supreme Court to disclose any information that is exculpatory for a criminal defendant, and an issue with a police officer’s credulity is a perfect example of something we must disclose,” she said. “Therefore, since New Hampshire’s list was published I have been attempting to gather more details behind the list. Without question, any officers who were placed on the New Hampshire Laurie List for their issues with truthfulness and who now work in Vermont will be subject of disclosures to defense attorneys. Furthermore, whether or not my office would ever prosecute a case investigated by someone in that circumstance is highly doubtful.”

In Vermont, each state’s attorney’s office has the authority to draw up Brady Letters, notifications given to defense counsels that an officer may have credibility issues that can call into question their court testimony. But there is no overarching legislation that standardizes the process. The letters are kept in each county office and in the State’s Attorneys and Sheriffs Executive Director’s Office in Montpelier.

The Reformer has requested all the Brady Letters Shriver has written since she took over the office in 2007. The Reformer has also requested the letters from the State’s Attorneys and Sheriffs Executive Director’s Office.

Bob Audette can be contacted at raudette@reformer.com.