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Saturday, May 19, 2012

Town Ordered to Produce Officer's Personnel Records

Town Ordered to Produce Officer's Personnel Records 
The New York Law Journal by Andrew Keshner  -  May 18, 2012

A state judge presiding over a suit alleging excessive police force during an arrest has ordered the town of Greenburgh, Westchester County, to turn over the personnel records of a non-party police officer for an in camera inspection. Discovery as to "any prior use of excessive force" by the officer "would be relevant to the claims of negligent training and supervision, as well as defendant Town's alleged practice and policy of permitting the use of excessive force by its police officers," Westchester Supreme Court Justice Joan Lefkowitz (See Profile) wrote in Lepore v. Town of Greenburgh, 7350-2010. The May 7 decision stems from the 2008 arrest of Angela Lepore, who claimed her constitutional rights were violated by officers' use of excessive force. Her suit also argued the town permitted the illegal use of force and failed to properly train its officers. She sought the production of records for an officer identified as "Police Officer J. Cerone." Though Cerone was not a defendant, the request was pertinent because he was involved in the arrest and there was a claim of faulty training by the town, Lepore argued. The town opposed, arguing Lepore was on a "fishing expedition" and trying to find a way to impeach the credibility of Cerone were he to testify as a fact witness. Moreover, the town said it could not be held responsible for the acts of a non-party agent or employee. But Lefkowitz said other courts have previously allowed the in camera review of personnel records for non-party officers in the context of negligent training and supervision claims. She also noted the negligent training and supervision claims and alleged condoning of excessive force "are not based upon the theory of respondeat superior, but rather upon a municipality's own alleged inactions."

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