Claremore Daily Progress

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January 1, 2014

County conflict top story of 2013


Conflict between DA’s office and law enforcement
From the very first days of 2013, the top news story of the year involved the conflict between the district attorney’s office and local law enforcement officials, a controversy that promises to highlight much of 2014 as well.
District Attorney Janice Steidley began the year challenging the credibility of statements made by Claremore police Det. John Singer in a child sex-abuse case. She said she was required to disclose the matter to the defense under the so-called Giglio rule that requires prosecutors to disclose potential impeachable testimony.
Singer contended the accusations against him were in retaliation for his criticism of Steidley’s performance in office, and he responded with a federal civil rights lawsuit against the district attorney. It is scheduled to go to trial this April.
In March, DA Steidley and her top assistants filed a libel lawsuit against the  Claremore Daily Progress, claiming it had wrongly accused them of criminal behavior. The suit followed a series of stories and columns in the paper about victims of sexual crimes.
A discrimination lawsuit filed by a former district attorney’s office investigator, Eddie Griffin, against the DA  soon followed. Griffin claims Steidley fired him after he received a head injury while detaining a suspect.  
She has denied the accusation.
By mid-summer, the building feud between the district attorney and law officers prompted Rogers County Sheriff Scott Walton, officer Singer and four others to launch a petition drive requesting a local grand jury investigation of Steidley, her top assistants and two county commissioners under fire for the way contracts were being awarded to outside companies.
The petitioners successfully collected more than 7,000 voter signatures, but 
Tulsa County District Judge Jefferson Sellers dismissed the petition to impanel the grand jury on the ground the sponsors used an unauthorized form to obtain the signatures. The district attorney promptly sued the petition sponsors, including Walton and Singer, for defamation because of the allegations of official misconduct contained in the original petition. 

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