Claremore Daily Progress

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February 13, 2014

Federal judge declines to dismiss entire Singer suit

Trial on 1st Amendment complaint set for April 21


U.S. District Judge Gregory K. Frizzell Wednesday denied a motion by District Attorney Janice Steidley and her former top assistant to dismiss Claremore Police Detective John Singer’s complaint that they retaliated against him for criticizing the DA’s performance in office. 
But the judge did grant a motion by Steidley and M. Bryce Lair, who resigned as first assistant DA in December, to dismiss Singer’s claim that they had libeled, slander and defamed him by accusing him of perjury in a 2011 sexual abuse case investigation.
Singer sued Steidley and Lair in federal court a year ago after they informed local police officials and others that Singer had not been truthful in reporting the suspect in the abuse case confessed to digitally raping a 16-year-old girl against her will.
Singer contended the district attorney’s office manufactured evidence against him, then reported to police, court and defense attorneys that he could not be trusted to testify truthfully in cases he had investigated. 
He said the accusations of misconduct violated his First Amendment right to free speech - to wit, his right to criticize the district attorney and her assistant - and also besmirched his reputation within the justice system and with the public. 
Judge Frizzell agreed the evidence in the case sufficiently supported a trial on the First Amendment complaint, but that Singer had failed to show he’d been defamed because a thorough review of the rape case confirmed the opinion of the district attorney office’s that his sworn statements about the suspect’s confession were not accurate.
Steidley said at the time she was required to report Singer’s inaccurate statements made in a search warrant and arrest affidavits under the U.S. Supreme Court’s so-called Giglio rule requiring disclosure to the defendants of misconduct by police or others in criminal cases. 

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