For Immediate Release
August 22, 2013
Jane E. Young Associate Attorney General
Criminal Justice Bureau
Attorney General Joseph A. Foster announces that he has concluded the review into the complaint regarding Nashua Police Chief John Seusing and determined the complaint to be unfounded. By way of a March 26, 2013 telephone call to the Attorney General's office and a letter dated April 7, 2013, Anthony Pivero, a former Nashua Police officer, alleged that current Police Chief John Seusing fabricated a police report when he was a patrol officer. Specifically, in his complaints Pivero alleged each of the following facts: (1) In 1984 or 1985, Seusing was involved in arresting individuals at a bar in Nashua; (2) during the booking process, a supervisor told Seusing to write an arrest report for a person who had been arrested; (3) although Seusing was not the arresting officer, he wrote the report, and at a district court hearing he testified to facts in the arrest report; (4) it was later determined that John Seusing had fabricated the arrest report; and (5) Seusing admitted to the false report and was disciplined by the department. Upon review by this office, Pivero's allegations proved largely incorrect. Seusing did not author a false report and did not provide false testimony. The review however established that while Seusing failed to tell the truth to his superiors when a complaint arose from his arrest, he later corrected his mistake of his own volition.
In his complaint, Pivero questioned whether this incident was disclosed in the murder trial of Michael Monroe, in which John Seusing testified. Police departments are required to inform prosecutors if a police officer has information in his or her personnel file that could materially impact a jury's assessment of the officer's credibility as a witness. Prosecutors, in turn, have a constitutional obligation to disclose such information to a criminal defendant.
In response to Pivero's complaint, this office undertook a review of the Monroe trial and interviewed a number of individuals who were involved in the case. That review established the following: On or about October 6, 1995, trial counsel for Michael Monroe filed a motion in limine seeking to admit evidence that John Seusing lied to his superiors and as a consequence incurred a fifteen day suspension. The motion noted as follows:
According to information provided by the State, approximately seven years ago Mr. Seusing lied to his superior officers: One of the people he had arrested either filed a lawsuit or threatened to file a lawsuit. (An excessive force/false arrest lawsuit was eventually filed and settled in Superior Court, See Belair v. City of Nashua, Nashua Police Department and John Seusing, James Brackett, Paul Ward, and Michael Jones, Hillsborough County Superior Court 87-C-1605). When asked about this case by his superiors, Mr. Seusing deliberately lied by telling them that he did not make the arrest in the first place. (Mr. Seusing had earlier testified under oath in District Court that he did in fact make the arrest). Mr. Seusing corrected his mistake and told the truth to his superiors before he was confronted by them. He was subsequently disciplined with a fifteen day suspension.
The Superior Court denied defendant's motion to admit the evidence. It issued an order under seal, ruling:
Here, the defendant seeks to introduce an incident whereby Det. Sgt. Seusing testified truthfully in court under oath, subsequently lied to his superiors, and then corrected this lie of his own volition before anyone questioned him again. The Court finds that this impeachment evidence lacks probative value. Additionally, the prejudice it may cause to the State far exceeds any probative value that may be salvaged from the incident. Specifically, the incident, having occurred at least seven years ago, is remote in time to the investigation in this case. Moreover, the Court finds the fact that Det. Sgt. Seusing corrected his mistake of his own volition, without being confronted by his superiors, diminishes any probative value regarding truthfulness that this incident may have and makes the incident inconsequential. The Court finds that admission of this evidence would unnecessarily prolong the trial, as rebuttal witnesses would undoubtedly be called to buttress Det. Sgt. Seusing's credibility. Finally, the admission of this evidence may unnecessarily confuse the jury.
The Court's order would have been communicated to members of the Nashua Police. However, given the passage of time, it could not be established who at the Nashua Police Department was specifically apprised of the Court's order. It is likely that this incident was not disclosed in any other criminal case. Based on the information obtained during the interviews, it appears that the Police Department concluded that the Court's ruling applied in all cases and the incident could not be used to impeach John Seusing in any other case.
Based on a comprehensive review of the Pivero complaint, this office has determined that the police and prosecutors satisfied their obligation to inform counsel for Michael Monroe that John Seusing lied to a superior and was disciplined for this lie. Further, the parties fully litigated the issue of whether evidence of Seusing's lie was admissible. The Court found that evidence would have minimal probative value and ruled it inadmissible. The Department's failure to disclose this incident in later cases was a matter of misunderstanding, not malfeasance. It appears that the Nashua Police Department understood the Court's order to mean that disclosure of the Seusing incident had been decided not only for the Monroe case but for all future cases.
Because the Court's order addresses a confidential personnel matter, it would normally remain under seal. However, at the request of this office, Chief Seusing agreed, in the interest of justice and full disclosure, to have the pleadings and order in the Monroe case unsealed. The court on August 21, 2013 granted the motion to unseal. While the Nashua Police Department's perception of the Court's order is understandable, this office would have continued to disclose this incident out of an abundance of caution, and will now make such notification in the future should Seusing be a witness in any case. Likewise, as the State did in the Monroe case, it will continue to argue that the incident is not admissible because it "presents precious little, if any, probative value, which is substantially outweighed by its potential to mislead or confuse the jury, while prejudicing the State." Since the incident was found to be "inconsequential" in a first degree murder case where John Seusing not only was a lead investigator but also was involved in obtaining the defendant's confession, the State is confident the incident will not be used for impeachment of Seusing in any case.
In concluding the review of the Pivero complaint, Attorney General Joseph A. Foster stated, "I want to thank the present and past members of the Nashua Police Department, including Chief Seusing, for their utmost cooperation with my office's review of Mr. Pivero's assertions. The investigation established that Chief Seusing was untruthful to a superior more than 25 years ago and, he, of his own volition, corrected his error and received his punishment. In order to satisfy our legal and ethical obligations, this office will continue to apprise defendants of this incident involving Chief Seusing, and we will continue to vigorously argue, as this office successfully did in 1995, that this incident is not proper impeachment evidence."
New Hampshire Department of Justice | 33 Capitol Street | Concord, NH | 03301