ST. LOUIS (CN) – The St. Louis Police Department told a city judge that an obscure rule prevents it from complying with a request for files on officers who were disciplined for using 2006 World Series tickets seized from scalpers. Attorneys for the department told St. Louis City Judge Philip Heagney during a hearing that the Garrity Rule prevented police from fully complying with the request.
Judge Heagney said he did not know enough about Garrity and questioned why the department did not bring it up earlier.
The Garrity Rule states that a public employee can be compelled by threat of discipline to admit criminal activity, but the information cannot be used for prosecution.
The rule is the result of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 1967, involving a case in which New Jersey police officers were accused of fixing tickets.
Priscilla Gunn, an attorney for St. Louis police, told the Post-Dispatch that Garrity is often used in internal police investigations.
Many officers cooperate under Garrity to save their jobs, as was the case in the World Series ticket scandal, in which 16 officers were reprimanded, demoted or suspended, but nobody was fired.
“It’s the only way a police agency can get information from its employees,” Gunn told the Post-Dispatch. “Most officers called in for questions, even if they are not the target of the review, give a Garrity statement.”
In the World Series case, two detectives were assigned to conduct investigations, according to the Post-Dispatch.
One focused on internal discipline and used Garrity interviews.
The other, who was trying to gather enough evidence to pursue criminal charges, was barred from the Garrity material.
Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce could examine only the second investigator’s file before announcing that there was not enough evidence to support criminal charges.
Heagney has not decided whether Garrity interviews must be publicly disclosed under the Missouri open records law. Police officials argue that the interviews are private records.