ROCKLAND, Maine — Kirk Guerrette was publicly named in court Monday as the former drug enforcement agent whose actions could jeopardize 44 pending criminal cases in Knox County.
“Since he’s been named publicly in the press, he’s asked me to step forward and defend his reputation,” Guerrette’s attorney, Melissa Reynolds O’Dea, said Monday in Knox County Superior Court. She accused defense attorneys of dragging her client’s name through the mud in an effort to discredit him as a potential witness in the cases.
Various parties argued during Monday afternoon’s hearing whether to unseal medical records and court documents concerning Guerrette, including a state attorney general investigator’s report, that might be favorable to defendants in the 44 cases.
Justice Jeffrey Hjelm heard arguments indicating that at least some of the material involved refers to prescription drugs that Guerrette was taking for an unspecified medical condition.
O’Dea said Guerrette’s co-workers knew of his medical condition and his treatment for it.
“It never affected him on the job,” she said.
At least one defense attorney disagreed.
“The number of drugs listed in the [attorney general] report that we got — it’s beyond me how it could not affect his work in the cases,” said defense attorney Sherry Tash before O’Dea objected. Hjelm sustained the objection and stated the medical information cannot be disclosed at this point.
Outside the courtroom after the hearing, O’Dea would not say Monday what specific allegations have been made against Guerrette, but she adamantly — and unprompted — defended his prescription drug use.
“He was never under the influence at work,” O’Dea told the Bangor Daily News on Monday.
O’Dea said Guerrette is in a sticky situation. He does not want his private medical information to be released, but it might be the only way to clear his name.
Guerrette, she said, was on a medication. It was not a narcotic or “the type of drug people sell.”
However, he was prescribed a medication that he took in regular doses until summer 2009.
But defense attorneys, she said, are “the first people to drag his name through the mud without any evidence.”
“There is no evidence against Lt. Guerrette. He’s not accused of anything,” she said.
Knox County Sheriff Donna Dennison pulled Guerrette early from his stint at the MDEA in December, two days after the attorney general investigator’s report about the officer was released. Last week she promoted him from detective to lieutenant and made him patrol administrator at the Sheriff’s Office.
After calling him back, Sheriff Dennison also ordered an outside investigation of Guerrette that revealed he did nothing wrong, O’Dea told Hjelm on Monday. Further, the only reason Guerrette is involved in the attorney general’s investigation is that he is a witness — not a perpetrator, she said. Motions by the defense attorneys, however, state that Guerrette was under investigation for wrongdoing.
Ultimately, Monday’s hearing was about what now sealed information, if any, will be released. Some attorneys argued that it was unconstitutional to keep the documents about Guerrette sealed — that privacy does not outweigh defendants’ rights to fair trials and to be able to face their accusers.
Defense attorney Joseph Steinberger argued, “The handicap this places on the defense is unreasonable. It’s beyond the power of any man.”
And O’Dea and prosecutors from the Attorney General’s Office said the information is medical and confidential and that the attorney general’s’s investigation is ongoing.
At the end of the hearing, Hjelm asked Michael Miller, director of the Healthcare Crimes Unit at the attorney general’s office, to examine the 4,200 pages and 42 compact disks of information in question, and then give him any material that might reflect on Guerrette’s credibility as a witness.
Hjelm did not say by when that examination should be completed and no further court dates were scheduled, but he said the case was a priority. He said he would then review the information privately.
“It’s disappointing,” defense attorney Jeremy Pratt said outside the courtroom after the hearing. “There shouldn’t be a veil of secrecy.”