The Suffolk County district attorney's office must turn over all its documents and other evidence relating to a special grand jury empaneled to investigate the 2011 shooting of an unarmed cabdriver by a Nassau County police officer for a court review as part of a $30 million lawsuit, a federal judge ruled Monday.
The grand jury, empaneled by Suffolk District Attorney Thomas Spota in 2013, expired last year without any charges brought against now-fired Nassau Officer Anthony DiLeonardo.
Thomas Moroughan, the cabbie who was shot by DiLeonardo in Huntington Station after a night of drinking with another off-duty officer, Edward Bienz, filed a lawsuit against Nassau and Suffolk counties, their police departments and 28 individual officers and supervisors for fabricating evidence, false arrest, excessive force, conspiracy and other allegations.
U.S. Magistrate Judge A. Kathleen Tomlinson in Central Islip wrote in her order that the district attorney's office is required to provide the subpoenaed documents and "an accompanying privilege log for any documents/materials being withheld on grounds of privilege" for an in-camera review by June 12. An in-camera review, conducted by the judge, keeps the documents private and inaccessible to the public. The judge will rule later on whether Moroughan's attorney can see the documents.
Moroughan's attorney, Anthony Grandinette, subpoenaed the grand jury records as part of the suit. But Suffolk Assistant District Attorney Anne Oh sought to quash the subpoena, arguing it would violate state law guaranteeing grand jury confidentiality.
"We are pleased with the court's order directing the district attorney to submit all documents pertaining to the special grand jury for an in-camera review," Grandinette said Tuesday in a statement. "This is the first step in obtaining the special grand jury documents for use in Mr. Moroughan's lawsuit. If the court finds, as we had argued, that the district attorney's objection based upon grand jury privilege does not apply, the court may order the release of the special grand jury documents for Mr. Moroughan's use."
A Spota spokesman declined to comment Tuesday.
On May 20, Tomlinson ordered the district attorney's office to turn over its investigative notes as part of the case.
In February, district attorney spokesman Robert Clifford blamed the special grand jury's inactivity on Moroughan's unwillingness to testify, the district attorney's office's inability to obtain Nassau and Suffolk County police internal affairs reports concerning the shooting, and a state law granting immunity against prosecution to grand jury witnesses.
Five legal experts who reviewed the facts of the case and the explanations from Spota's office as to why the special grand jury was not pursued disagreed with the idea that Spota could not pursue the case, Newsday has reported.