Rogers County prosecutor alleges misstatements by Claremore police investigator
BY RHETT MORGAN World Staff Writer
Saturday, February 02, 2013
2/02/13 at 8:08 AM
CLAREMORE - The Rogers County district attorney has questioned the credibility of a Claremore police investigator, determining that alleged misstatements by him in a criminal case constitute evidence that the prosecutor is required to disclose, documents show.
The officer, John Singer, who has been on the Claremore police force since 2000, filed a motion this week contesting District Attorney Janice Steidley's action, which she said is in accordance with a 1972 Supreme Court case.
That case, Giglio v. the United States, mandated that the prosecution 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 a motion to intervene, saying it disputes that material from Singer's investigation constitutes "Giglio" material and asking for a judicial determination on the matter.
Singer is alleged to have "made statements that were untrue and as a result of 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.
The allegations stem from Singer's role in an August 2011 case in which a Claremore man was charged with numerous crimes, including rape by instrumentation and distribution of obscene material or child pornography. Six of eight counts were dismissed in January 2012, records show.
"We're not trying to hide dirty laundry here at the Police Department, but what we are requesting or asking for is the same consideration that they would give someone accused of a crime or other unlawful act," Police Chief Stan Brown said Friday. "And that is for this officer to receive due process."
Brown called Singer's career "impeccable," adding that Steidley has been using him for expert testimony and as a witness since the resolution of the case in question. He said the Police Department has taken no personnel action against Singer, pending a potential judicial determination.
"The ramifications and destructive allegations against an officer with such an impeccable career demand that due process be granted," Brown said in a statement.
Steidley's determination about how the Giglio ruling affects this situation centers on a videotaped interview in the rape case, said Tulsa attorney Chad Neuens, Singer's lawyer.
"What the allegation is is that the sworn affidavits by Officer Singer do not match what (the) defendant said," Neuens said. "Therefore, they are alleging that it is potential perjury."
Information about how the Giglio ruling relates to Singer has since been disclosed to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Oklahoma and to defense attorneys in Rogers County cases of second- degree burglary and deprived juveniles filed in 2012, Neuens said.
"Singer has a spotless record, very decorated," the attorney said. "He's one of the best. ...
"This is going to ruin him as an officer. It's going to ruin his reputation. That's exactly what the 14th Amendment (regarding due process and equal protection) is there to protect."
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," she wrote.
Steidley contacted the District Attorneys Council and the Oklahoma Bar Association's Ethics Council before making her Giglio determination, her letter states.
"Once a prosecutor determines something to be Giglio, we have an affirmative ethical and legal duty at that time to disclose," she 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 Officer 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."
According to a resumé released Friday by the Claremore Police Department, Singer has served as an investigator since 2005, posting a 100 percent conviction rate in more than 20 state and federal trials.
Bringing up this issue "wasn't a choice. This was a duty," Steidley said Friday. "Every criminal prosecutor in my office was given this material and independently decided that, yes, we believe we have a duty to turn this over."
Original Print Headline: DA alleges misstatements by Claremore officer
Rhett Morgan 918-581-8395
District Attorney Janice Steidley: She says bringing up this issue "wasn't a choice. This was a duty," mandated by a 1972 Supreme Court ruling