Ex-MDEA agent’s lawyer argues document release in drug cases unnecessary

Posted April 29, 2011, at 7:53 p.m.

ROCKLAND, Maine — A former Maine Drug Enforcement Agency agent is demanding answers from a Knox County Superior Court judge who has ordered the limited release of more than 900 pages of previously undisclosed documents about him.

The agent, Kirk Guerrette, who has not been granted access to the documents, believes they contain allegations of misconduct and information about medications he once was prescribed.

Defense attorneys who sought the information hope to use the documents to ruin Guerrette’s credibility as a witness in 33 criminal cases pending in three counties.

Little is known about the information in the records, but Judge Jeffrey Hjelm earlier this month ordered they be unsealed on May 2. Only the defendants and their attorneys will have access to the documents, which were gathered from an ongoing Maine Healthcare Crime Unit investigation. The unit typically investigates MaineCare fraud.

Guerrette’s attorney, Melissa Reynolds O’Dea, has insisted the only reason her client is part of the Healthcare Crime Unit’s investigation is because he is a witness — not a perpetrator. No charges have been brought against Guerrette.

“The only basis for releasing information about prescription medication he was taking would be to attack his state of mind during his involvement in the criminal investigation into each defendant,” O’Dea wrote in a motion filed April 28 seeking a detailed explanation from the judge about his legal reasons for the release. “As his medical records clearly indicate, he last used the medication at issue in July of 2009.”

Most, or perhaps all of the 33 affected cases were based on drug charges that occurred after Guerrette stopped taking his medication, O’Dea wrote.

“As a result, there could have been no impact on his state of mind, and the defendants have no constitutional right to engage on a fishing expedition to impeach his credibility,” she said.

This is a scary precedent to set, O’Dea argued. Any defendants of drug cases could ask for their arresting police officer’s medical records.

“The order could be read as requiring each and every government witness to disclose every medication they have ever taken to a prosecutor in every case they are involved in,” wrote O’Dea.

O’Dea said case law does not support releasing Guerrette’s medical information or any unproved allegations of wrongdoing by him while on the job.

Neither the medication nor Guerrette’s ailment has been named in any public documents, but O’Dea has previously said it was not a narcotic or “the type of drug people sell.”

Justice Hjelm said April 19 that his decision to release the information to the defendants and their attorneys was “based on constitutional rights that are afforded to criminal defendants.” Those same rights, however, are not extended to potential witnesses, such as Guerrette. Thus Guerrette and his attorney are still being denied access to the Healthcare Crime Unit’s investigative files.

Knox County Sheriff Donna Dennison pulled Guerrette early from his stint at the MDEA in December. She recently promoted him from detective to lieutenant and made him patrol administrator at the sheriff’s office.

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