Federal Litigation in Wrongful Death, Excessive Force Case Results in Release of Internal Investigation File

Updated 35 weeks ago by Tony E. Rutherford, News Editor

An ongoing federal complaint concerning the wrongful death of Annie Earle in U.S. District Court has resulted in an order for the City of Huntington to reveal in discovery the contents of a detective's internal investigation file. Court filings state that a  Dept. of Justice investigation is ongoing. The detective has  been terminated by the Huntington Police Department .

Judge Robert Chambers issued the decision Feb. 23, 2017.

The Memorandum Decision and Order stated (in part):

After the judge examined the documents in chambers he wrote "... factors favor disclosure, the Magistrate Judge noted Defendant’s completing the internal investigation on Defendant N and  failure to cite to any effect on the DOJ investigation if the internal affairs report was disclosed,  and found only the slim likelihood that disclosure would chill future investigations.  Mag. Judge Order, ECF No. 233, at 4.  The Magistrate Judge found the evidence relevant but recognized that  relevance does not automatically equate to admissibility at trial.  Id. at 6.  

The City of Huntington argued that the release would reveal "tactical details" of how police handle rape investigations. However, the records would "highlight other policy and procedure violations " (by the former Detective) which are relevant to his alleged failure to follow "constitutional requirements.

Judge Chambers ordered that the names of alleged sexual abuse victims be redacted and that the address of the former detective also not be disclosed.

A PDF of the Order is below , as well as a copy of the full complaint filed in 2015.

EDITOR'S NOTE: The discovery process in litigation assists attorneys and the court in determining evidence that could be admissible at a trial. It also helps determine whether one or more defendants should be dismissed from the complaint based on depositions and evidence. Often, the discovery process leads to a settlement offer rather than putting the case before a jury.

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