Joey Julian hearing: Police privacy vs. public’s right to know

Updated: Dec. 12, 2019 at 8:04 PM CST
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LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) -The Joey Julian case is ultimately about whether he is guilty of murdering Ernest Miller in downtown Lake Charles two years ago. But as defense attorneys prepare for trial, they want disciplinary records of police who may be witnesses.

Defense attorney Adam Johnson says it’s public record.

“Police officers who commit workplace misconduct don’t have a legitimate expectation of privacy. They work for us. We have a right to scrutinize their activity. Especially, confirmed misconduct,” said Johnson.

Such information would be used to attack their credibility when they take the stand in the trial.

But First Assistant D.A. Cynthia Killingsworth says, at this point, it could just hamper justice.

The people that see this or read this about one or two individuals can say, ‘Oh well, since these two people did this, the whole department is bad.’ That’s not fair. That’s certainly not fair to all LCPD," said Killingsworth.

The state provided a summary of misconduct and disciplinary action, which Judge Ron Ware sealed last week, but now has unsealed.

Defense attorney Todd Clemons says the conduct of public employees is important for people to know.

“The public has a right to know what’s going on in the courtrooms, so it’s very concerning that something of this magnitude was sealed in the first place and it’s important to note that these are findings after internal affairs investigations, these are not just complaints,” said Clemons.

The state also argued the privacy of officers must be balanced with the public’s right to know, at least in a murder trial.

“Just because you put on a badge and go to work every day to protect and serve the public doesn’t seem to me to be a reason to have your entire life exposed,”said Killingsworth.

Judge Ware agreed the summary which lists officers and alleged misconduct should be unsealed but it will stay sealed until the state has a chance to appeal.

The state is appealing today’s ruling to the Third Circuit.

Julian is set for trial in April.

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