Judge denies temporary restraining order in police officer's suit of area DA
BY RHETT MORGAN World Staff Writer
Tuesday, February 05, 2013
2/05/13 at 3:50 PM
A federal judge has denied a request for a temporary restraining order filed by a Claremore police officer against Janice Steidley, district attorney for Rogers, Mayes and Craig counties, documents show.
In his motion, John Singer had sought to block Steidley and First Assistant District Attorney Bryce Lair from disseminating any alleged Giglio material or other alleged falsehoods relating to him, saying it had caused the police officer irreparable damage to his reputation, employment and effectiveness as an investigator.
In an order filed Monday, U.S. Chief District Judge Gregory Frizzell denied Singer’s request, writing that “at this early stage, Singer has not provided evidence to demonstrate either irreparable harm, or that he has a substantial likelihood of prevailing on the merits.”
The defendants have 21 days to respond to Singer’s motion for preliminary injunction, records indicate. Singer, who claims he’s been denied due process, is seeking an unspecified amount of actual and punitive damages.
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.
In explaining his decision, Frizzell wrote that to obtain a temporary restraining order, Singer must show, irreparable harm to himself if the injunction is not granted; a substantial likelihood that he will prevail on the merits; threatened injury to the plaintiff outweighs possible harm to the opposing party if the injunction is granted; and the injunction would not be contrary to the public interest.
The judge went on to write that while “reputational harm and possible loss are potentially irreparable,” it is “also is possible the alleged harms are not irreparable.”
According to Singer’s federal complaint, filed Monday, 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 2000, Singer concluded that her performance was “substandard,” and he became a vocal critic, the lawsuit states.
Steidley issued a prepared statement Tuesday on behalf of Lair and herself.
“We categorically deny every accusation of misconduct, improper conduct, violation of due process, violation of Constitutional rights and other totally unfounded allegations made by John Singer,” she said in the statement.
Steidley said her office takes seriously the constitutional obligations and consequences in Giglio matters. She added that Singer and the city of Claremore chose to make the situation public.
“... We will continue to operate our office in a professional manner that fully respects victims, witnesses, defendants and the taxpayers who pay our salaries and rely on our integrity,” she wrote. “We will not be sidetracked by baseless threats designed to impede the administration of justice.”
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 been a Claremore police officer since 2000 and an investigator since 2005.
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, an attorney representing Singer said last week.
Steidley has said that whether something is subject to the Giglio ruling falls within the discretion of an individual prosecutor.
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.