Rogers County DA raises issue of police detective's credibility
BY RHETT MORGAN World Staff Writer
Friday, February 01, 2013
CLAREMORE – The Rogers County district attorney has called into question the credibility of a Claremore police detective, determining that alleged misstatements by him related to a criminal case constituted impeachment evidence that the prosecutor is required to disclose, documents show.
Detective John Singer filed a motion this week contesting District Attorney Janice Steidley’s action, which she said is in accordance with a 1972 Supreme Court case.
Extending the obligations of a 1963 case, Giglio v. the United States mandated that the prosecution should disclose any and all information that may be used to impeach the credibility of prosecution witnesses, including law enforcement officers.
On Thursday, the city of Claremore filed in motion to intervene, saying it disputes that material from Singer’s investigation constitutes “Giglio” material and asking for a judicial determination on the matter.
“The allegation is that this officer in the investigation ... made statements that were untrue and as a result of that, that information could be used as impeachment evidence in future cases in which the officer may be called to testify,” Claremore City Attorney Matt Ballard said Friday in a telephone interview.
The allegations stem from Singer’s role in a 2011 case in which a Claremore man was charged with numerous counts, including rape by instrumentation and distribution of obscene material or child pornography.
In a letter to Ballard dated Jan. 14, Steidley said she spoke to Singer about this issue “to which Mr. Singer did not have an explanation. ... It is quite simple the affidavits are not supported by the report nor the interrogation tape,” documents show.
Steidley wrote in the letter that said she contacted the Oklahoma District Attorneys Council and the Oklahoma Bar Association’s Ethics Council before making her Giglio determination, a letter to Ballard stated.
“Once a prosecutor determines something to be Giglio, we have an affirmative ethical and legal duty at that time to disclose,” Steidley wrote. “The decision to determine if something is `Giglio’ falls within the discretion of the individual prosecutor. If the prosecutor does not know if something is Giglio, then a hearing can be set for the court to determine.”
The city supports the statements in question attributed to Singer, adding that “there has been no finding by a court or any other agency that Offficer Singer’s actions were in any way improper or incorrect,” documents show.
In a Jan. 14 email to Steidley, Ballard wrote: “The fact that it has been nearly 18 months since Officer Singer’s investigation concluded and charges were presented to your office would certainly suggest a lack of haste in this matter. Your decision to proceed unilaterally at this time is perplexing at best.”
Steidley didn’t immediately return a message seeking comment Friday. Singer was unavailable for immediate comment.