Justice denies drug agent further explanation about potentially incriminating documents

Posted May 10, 2011, at 6:23 p.m.
Last modified May 10, 2011, at 7:07 p.m.

ROCKLAND, Maine —  A Superior Court justice recently refused to elaborate on his decision that prohibits a former Maine Drug Enforcement agent access to potentially incriminating documents against  the officer.

The agent, Kirk Guerrette, in late April asked for an explanation from the justice who ordered the limited release of about 900 pages of previously undisclosed documents to the defendants and attorneys in more than 30 criminal cases.

Defense attorneys who sought the information hope to use the documents to ruin Guerrette’s credibility as a witness in the cases that are pending in three counties. Neither Guerrette nor his attorney will have access to the materials.

Little is known about the information in the records, but Justice Jeffrey Hjelm ordered they be unsealed only to the defendants and their attorneys. The documents were gathered from an ongoing investigation by the state Attorney General’s Maine Healthcare Crime Unit. The unit typically investigates MaineCare fraud.

In his newest order, Hjelm said the type of motion Guerrette filed in court is typically not used in criminal cases — only civil — and because there are no rules around it, he was dismissing Guerrette’s request.

Further, Hjelm wrote, Guerrette had an opportunity to raise his concerns at a March 7 hearing on the matter. His attorney spoke for him at that time.

Guerrette believes the documents contain allegations of misconduct and information about medications he once was prescribed.

His 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 an explanation from the judge about his legal reasons for the release.

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 said her client did not take a narcotic or “the type of drug people sell.”

O’Dea argued that giving defendants access to law enforcement officers’ prescription medications is a dangerous precedent to set.

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 rights, however, are not extended to potential witnesses, such as Guerrette, he added. 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.

Also in his most recent order, Hjelm wrote that many of the drug case defendants’ attorneys asked that their clients be able to look through the Guerrette files unsupervised. Hjelm denied these requests.

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