October 19, 2019
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Judge urges review of cases involving former Rockland officer

Beth Brogan | BDN
Beth Brogan | BDN
Justice Daniel Billings looks on during a case in February 2017.

A Maine Superior Court judge urged the Knox County district attorney to review past convictions involving a former Rockland police officer, citing an ongoing pattern of alleged dishonesty.

Justice Daniel Billings shared his concerns in June, when he allowed Earle J. Studley of Union to withdraw his guilty plea from a 5-year-old operating-under-the-influence case that was handled by former Rockland police officer Jacob Shirey.

In his ruling on the motion to withdraw the plea, Billings wrote, “Rather than trying to salvage a prosecution that has been tainted by a dishonest officer, the state should be reviewing prior convictions involving former Officer Shirey to determine if any of these cases should be reopened.”

Shirey resigned from the Rockland Police Department in early 2017, just after an internal investigation by the department on allegations of misconduct and dishonesty, according to court documents.

The documents do not include specifics about the alleged misconduct, but Billings said that the materials presented were “quite disturbing” and demonstrate a “longstanding pattern of neglect of his duties.”

“This is not a situation where an officer’s credibility is brought into question by a single incident or one-time mistake,” Billings wrote.

Materials submitted to the court “document that former Officer Shirey has exhibited an ongoing pattern of dishonestly that raise questions about the outcome of any matter where his credibility was material to the outcome,” according to Billings.

Following the internal Rockland police investigation, in early 2017 the district attorney’s office informed the court of credibility concerns related to Shirey, according to the documents. In May 2017, Justice Bruce Mallonee ruled that the state had to provide information about Shirey to defense counsels in any pending cases in which he was involved.

Shirey was involved in about 20 criminal cases at the time of the May 2017 ruling, according to the Courier-Gazette.

Studley pleaded guilty in March 2015 to charges of drunken driving and possession of Suboxone. The charges stemmed from a 2013 traffic stop in Rockland conducted by Shirey. Studley was given a two-year deferred sentence.

The allegations against Shirey arose prior to Studley’s scheduled sentencing in July 2017, which never took place because his attorney, Christopher MacLean, filed the motion to withdraw Studley’s plea.

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