Two months after failing to convict him in a criminal trial, the Valley's top prosecutor is considering placing a Chandler police sergeant on a list of discredited cops.
Chandler police Sgt. Tom Lovejoy was acquitted of an animal cruelty charge in August when a judge ruled that the death of his police dog was an accident, not a crime.
Now, the Maricopa County Attorney's Office, which lost the case, is considering whether to place Lovejoy on what's known as the Brady List, a compilation of Valley police officers who are said to have credibility issues.
The list, in effect, is a blacklist of sorts for local law enforcement, kept by prosecutors who may need to disclose issues with a witness' credibility at trial.
Lovejoy, who has announced plans to sue the county for wrongful arrest and prosecution, said on Sunday he believes the move amounts to nothing more than retaliation.
"I can't see how it's anything else," Lovejoy said.
But Michael Scerbo, a spokesman for the county attorney, said the decision to consider adding Lovejoy to the list came as early as June - more than two months before his trial.
"I would say, unequivocally, that this was not in response to the not-guilty verdict," Scerbo said.
Lovejoy was charged in 2007 with misdemeanor animal cruelty after leaving his dog, Bandit, in the back of a police vehicle for nearly 13 hours that August, killing him.
Prior to his trial in San Tan Justice Court, Lovejoy and his lawyer spent a year locked in a sometimes ugly battle with the county attorney's office, trying to get the charge dropped.
In the midst of it all, according to documents obtained last week, a lawyer with the county attorney's office wrote to the Chandler Police Department asking for more information about Lovejoy.
The letter, dated June3, 2008, asked for "any and all information ... relevant to an integrity issue involving Sergeant Lovejoy as the subject of the investigation."
The letter was sent about two weeks after the Tribune reported that the sergeant was one of eight officers disciplined earlier in the year following an internal police department investigation.
The inquiry was launched after the officers, including Lovejoy, used department equipment to look up information on a license plate that was bought by the sergeant's wife and was embarrassing to the police chief, Sherry Kiyler, who first made the dog's death public.
Lovejoy's wife, Carolynn, later said that the text of the license plate, "C1FDME," stood for "Christ, my No.1, found me" or alternately, "the chief failed me."
The investigation showed that some officers believed the alternate meaning contained an expletive.
The state Motor Vehicle Division has since required the Lovejoys to return the license plate, which was never placed on a vehicle.
Following the county attorney's June request for more information, it took the police department until Sept. 23 to forward the investigation to the office.
With it, the department included a letter from its legal adviser, Michael McNeff, saying that the city believed the case "does not involve possible Brady Material."
Still, just six days later, the office sent a letter to Lovejoy saying he was being considered for the list.
The so-called Brady List comes from a 1963 Supreme Court ruling that requires prosecutors to tell defense attorneys about any police officers who may have credibility issues on the witness stand.
Some prosecuting agencies use the list sparingly. For example, the King County Prosecutor's Office in Washington had just 11 officers on its Brady List as of mid-2007, according to a report in the Seattle Times.
In Maricopa County, however, prosecutors had placed 328 officers on the list as of May 2007. Newer figures were not available last week.
Lovejoy said the fact that he is the only one of the eight officers in the license plate scandal to be facing inclusion in the list is proof that the move is retaliatory for winning in court.
"They singled me out," he said. "That's the best shot they could take, I guess."
However, he added that he isn't too worried about the consequences.
Being on the list can mean that a defense attorney may get to tear apart the officer's credibility on the witness stand, but it doesn't change his day-to-day police work, he said.
"The Brady List to me is nothing," Lovejoy said. "It doesn't affect an officer's ability to do his job."
Lovejoy said he has forwarded all letters on to his own lawyer, who is considering using the material in an upcoming lawsuit.
Scerbo said he did not known when, if ever, the county attorney's office would decide whether or not to put Lovejoy on the list, but he called the process a "very routine matter."