Claremore police officer sues prosecutors
BY RHETT MORGAN World Staff Writer
Tuesday, February 05, 2013
2/20/13 at 5:07 PM
Correction: A Tuesday Tulsa World story incorrectly reported the year when Rogers County District Attorney Janice Steidley was elected. She was elected in 2010. This story has been corrected.
CLAREMORE - A Claremore police officer sued the district attorney and her first assistant Monday, saying they manufactured evidence against him to "destroy his career and ruin his reputation," documents show.
In a filing in U.S. District Court for the Tulsa-based Northern District of Oklahoma, Officer John Singer also asked for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction against Janice Steidley, the district attorney for Rogers, Mayes and Craig counties, and Bryce Lair, the first assistant district attorney.
"We deny the allegations and look forward to litigating this matter in court," Steidley said.
Singer's attorney, Chad Neuens, declined to comment.
Singer wants the court to prevent the prosecutors from further disseminating any alleged "Giglio" material or any other "falsehoods" related to Singer, who has been a Claremore police officer since 2000 and an investigator since 2005.
Giglio refers to a 1972 Supreme Court case that mandates that the prosecution disclose any and all information that could impeach the credibility of prosecution witnesses, including law enforcement officers.
Steidley said last week that misstatements made by Singer in a criminal case constitute Giglio material, or evidence she is required to disclose to the defense.
The District Attorney's Office disclosed that Singer has credibility problems in a pair of felony and deprived-juvenile cases in 2012, records show. Singer has contested that action in Rogers County District Court, and the city of Claremore has intervened.
According to Singer, the Giglio tag is the prosecutors' revenge for his criticisms of the District Attorney's Office, his participation in the background investigation of a former district attorney's investigator, Steidley's concern that Singer's wife was going to run against her for district attorney, and the prosecutors' assumption that Singer was the principal source for a Jan. 6 Claremore Progress newspaper story that was critical of Steidley's prosecutions of drug offenses investigated by Singer, records indicate.
Soon after Steidley was elected district attorney in 2010, Singer concluded that her performance was "substandard," and he became a vocal critic, the lawsuit states.
After Steidley's election, Singer participated in a background check of a criminal investigator hired by Steidley and determined that the investigator's background contained a number of issues that would require disclosure to attorneys representing defendants in cases in which he was involved, documents indicate.
Singer reportedly explained that Giglio material to Steidley, who was "not familiar with the case or the concept," the lawsuit states.
Steidley reportedly was angered when Singer told her he wouldn't work any cases with the investigator or allow him to become involved in any of Singer's cases, the filing states.
Last fall, Steidley reportedly inquired whether Singer's wife, Edith Singer, a former Rogers County prosecutor, planned to run for district attorney in 2014. After this conversation, Steidley "made it clear" that she intended to start her campaign immediately, records indicate.
The evidence in question centers on a videotaped interview in a 2011 rape case. Steidley says affidavits compiled by Singer don't match what the defendant said, constituting potential perjury, Neuens said last week.
In his lawsuit, Singer contends that prosecutors chose a case that Singer had investigated more than 18 months earlier and decided, "without a judicial determination and without affording Singer due process," that Singer had acted improperly. The prosecutors took no action on the information, Singer alleges, until after the drug prosecution story appeared in the Claremore Progress on Jan. 6.
Whether something is subject to the Giglio ruling falls within the discretion of an individual prosecutor, Steidley wrote this month in a letter to the city.
Singer reportedly has been told by superiors that he will be fired if the evidence in question is indeed subject to the Giglio ruling. While still employed as a police officer, he cannot work on any cases or take any action that would require him to be a witness, and all his pending criminal investigations in state and federal court have been stayed indefinitely, records show.
Lair couldn't be reached for comment Monday.
Original Print Headline: Claremore officer files suit
Rhett Morgan 918-581-8395