In 2005, a detective in the Fall River Police Department’s Vice and Intelligence Unit received information from a confidential informant regarding individuals dealing drugs in the City. The detective investigated the situation, including using the confidential informant to make a controlled purchase of drugs, and ultimately the individuals involved were arrested, prosecuted and convicted.
In 2009, one of the convicted individuals sent to the Fall River Police Department a public records request looking for copies of certain material related to the investigation. That request for documents was denied by the detective, to whom the request was forwarded because of his familiarity with the case. Following the denial of the public records request, the detective was sued by the individual in Superior Court.
RJA represented the detective in the lawsuit. RJA obtained summary judgment in favor of its client in the Superior Court, successfully arguing that the records sought by the plaintiff (which included information related to the amount of currency that was used in the controlled purchase of drugs) was designed to assist the plaintiff in learning the identity of the confidential informant. RJA also convinced the Superior Court judge hearing the case that the information sought was criminal offender record information that could not be disclosed under the public records law, even if it was the plaintiff’s own information.
After losing in the Superior Court, the plaintiff appealed the judgment to the Appeals Court. After briefs were submitted to the Appeals Court, on March 20, 2013, the Appeals Court affirmed the judgment in favor of RJA’s client. In its decision, the Appeals Court agreed with all of RJA’s arguments as to the appropriateness of a determination in favor of the detective.