Lawsuit: Hogan needs Right to Know training
Motion seeks proof of training, attorney fees as well as records
NASHUA — The lawyer accusing Hillsborough County’s prosecutor of violating the state’s Right to Know law wants County Attorney Dennis Hogan to undergo remedial training in the law.
Tony Soltani, representing former Weare police officer Lisa Censabella, filed a motion this week in his lawsuit against Hogan that seeks attorney’s fees for himself, the records that he requested for Censabella, and proof that Hogan has been trained in RSA 91-a, the law governing public access to government information.
“Mr. Hogan has engaged in a pattern of evasion, diversion, obfuscation, and non-responses, for well over a year, forcing the petitioner to resort to this court for a remedy. He has broken every provision of the statute, and the very letter of the Constitution which holds him accountable,” Soltani wrote in his motion.
Censabella has claimed she was wrongfully fired from her job in Weare after being subjected to harassment. Soltani, working for Censabella, sent a Right to Know request to Hogan more than a year ago seeking information on another Weare police officer, Kim McSweeney.
Soltani filed Right to Know requests with Hogan’s office seeking proof McSweeney was the target of a criminal investigation for allegedly engaging in a coverup of a police cruiser accident. McSweeney was also a witness against Censabella in her case with the town. Soltani complaint against Hogan alleges that the county attorney violated the law in failing to provide all of the records of the internal investigation.
According to Soltani, Hogan stalled on releasing any information over the course of 11 months. After he did release some information in the case, Hogan allegedly refused to release the accident report, a disc containing video surveillance, and a disc containing audio interviews, according to Soltani.
Hogan’s attorney, Carolyn Kirby, Hillsborough’s legal counsel, want’s the case dismissed as Soltani did not disclose he was seeking the information on Censabella’s behalf.
“A client may not be deprived of her legal right, because she chose to act through her attorney; this would be the perfect example of an absurd result,” Soltani wrote.
Soltani’s original complaint alleges that Hogan put off fulfilling the request for 11 months, before finally handing over incomplete records of a criminal investigation into McSweeney, an investigation that was dropped. Included was a Nov. 24, 2015, email from Weare Chief Sean Kelly to Hogan asking for a criminal investigation into McSweeney, and then a Dec. 16, 2015, email from Kelly asking Hogan to close the investigation.
“In part, Chief Kelley wrote, ‘Today, the Town of Weare has received the resignation of Sergeant Kim McSweeney effective immediately. With Sergeant McSweeney’s resignation, I am closing the associated Weare Police Department Internal Affairs file. With this note, I am asking to withdraw my request to your Office for review of Weare Police Department Internal Affairs case IA-15-019. Please let me know when the file will be available for retrieval,'” the petition states.
Solanti’s complaint states that McSweeney’s resignation and the timing of Kelly’s request for Hogan to drop his investigation are suspect, as evidenced by emails other Hillsborough County attorneys sent at the time of Kelly’s request.
“A third email disclosed to (Solanti’s law firm) dated May 23, 2016 was sent from Attorney Cassie Devine to Attorney Michele Battaglia who are both employed by the Hillsborough County Attorney’s Office,” Soltani’s petition states. “In part, Attorney Devine wrote ‘Nudge, nudge, wink, wink, say no more. If it wasn’t a condition, why did they try to withdraw the file? What am I missing?'”
One of the emails from Battaglia to Kelly indicates that with the close of the McSweeney investigation, she would return to Kelly records that were never shared with Solanti, the petition states.
Along with the information, Soltani wants Hogan to show proof of remedial 91-A training, and proof that his staff is following proper procedures in responding to 91-A requests.