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Johnson v. City of New Haven

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

September 6, 2018

BOBBY JOHNSON, Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF NEW HAVEN, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER ON DISCOVERY DISPUTE

          Jeffrey Alker Meyer United States District Judge

         Plaintiff Bobby Johnson seeks to require defendants City of New Haven, Francisco Ortiz, Patrick Redding, Herman Badger, and Andrew Muro to produce four sets of documents as part of discovery for his lawsuit against defendants and two other defendants (Clarence Willoughby and Michael Quinn) for wrongful arrest, conviction, and imprisonment. Doc. #99. Defendants have objected to each request. Doc. #101. After considering the submissions and arguments of the parties at a discovery hearing on September 5, 2018, I overruled defendants' objections to plaintiff's first and third requests and overruled in part and sustained in part defendants' objections to plaintiff's second and fourth requests for the reasons stated on the record.

         To the extent I overrule defendants' objections to any request, I do so without prejudice to a document-by-document claim of any state law statutory privacy privilege or the law enforcement privilege. To the extent that defendants would claim that all requested documents as a class are subject to privilege, I overrule this claim and order the documents to be produced in discovery. Any document-by-document claim of privilege should be made in good faith accounting for the time elapsed since the events and investigations at issue in this case, and must be accompanied by a privilege log. See In re City of New York, 607 F.3d 923, 944, 948 (2d Cir. 2010).

         Request #1: New Haven Police Department (“NHPD”) Investigation Files from the Howell, Bennett, and Wright Murders Plaintiff's first request is for:

“NHPD investigative files from the following other homicide cases:
a. the December 24, 2006, Tony Howell murder;
b. the November 27, 2006, Robert Bennett murder; and
c. the June 23, 2005, Kevin Wright murder.”

Doc. #99 at 1. After considering defendants' objection to the request and plaintiff's given reason for requesting the files, I concluded that plaintiff requests documents that are relevant to his claims, and so overruled defendants' objection. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b)(1). Compare Chepilko v. City of New York, 2012 WL 398700, at *15 (E.D.N.Y. 2012) (“Subsequent or contemporaneous conduct can be circumstantial evidence of the existence of preceding municipal policy or custom.”), with Connick v. Thompson, 563 U.S. 51, 63 n.7 (2011) (“[C]ontemporaneous or subsequent conduct cannot establish a pattern of violations that would provide ‘notice to the cit[y] and the opportunity to conform to constitutional dictates.'” (quoting City of Canton v. Harris, 489 U.S. 378, 395 (1989) (O'Connor, J., concurring in part and dissenting in part))).

         Request #2: Documents Relating to Larry Mabery and Richard Benson

         Plaintiff next requests:

“Any of the following documents and information in the NHPD's possession and control regarding the alleged true perpetrators of the Fields homicide, Larry Mabery and Richard Benson:
a. cooperation agreements
b. documents related to either of these individuals working as cooperating ...

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