U.S. appeals court dismisses DA immunity request –Policeman can sue DA

Appears to clear way for trial on Singer lawsuit

Posted: Friday, December 19, 2014 7:12 pm

By SALESHA WILKEN STAFF REPORTER

 

The U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver has rejected a bid by District Attorney Janice Steidley and her former assistant, M. Bryce Lair, to dismiss Claremore Police Detective John Singer’s civil lawsuit against them on grounds they are entitled to immunity from legal action as government prosecutors.

 

The decision appeared to clear the way for a federal trial on the case that was prompted by prosecutor claims that Singer misled the district attorney’s office about an interview he conducted with a sexual assault suspect and could not be trusted as a court witness.

 

The court said it lacked jurisdiction to consider the appeal on the Steidley and Lair immunity argument as they had not raised that issue in the federal district court in Oklahoma after Singer amended his complaint to include defamation, libel and slander as well as First Amendment violations.

 

The appeals court noted U.S. District Judge Gregory K. Frizzell had dismissed several other legal aspects of Singer’s original filing on claims of prosecutor immunity, but the judge allowed the suit to proceed on his contention Steidley and Lair violated his free speech rights by retaliating against him.

 

The appeals court said the lower court would need to make a ruling on whether or not Steidley or Lair could invoke immunity on that contention before the appellate court could review that challenge.

 

Steidley and Lair argued unsuccessfully that the appellate court could take up the issue for the first time.

Judge Frizzell declined to dismiss Singer’s amended suit, prompting Steidley and Lair to appeal to the higher court to intervene. Singer filed his original suit in February of 2013.

 

Singer’s suit contends the district attorney’s office manufactured evidence against him, then reported to police, defense attorneys and the Claremore Progress that he could not be trusted to testify truthfully in cases he had investigated.

 

Steidley said at the time she was mandated by the U.S. Supreme Court’s so-called Giglio rule to report Singer made inaccurate statements in search warrant and arrest affidavits in a sexual assault case. The rule requires prosecutors to disclose to criminal defendant information about witness credibility that may be material to guilt or punishment.

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