Trooper’s Indictment Dismissed Because of Garrity Violation
Scott Reps was a trooper for the Minnesota State Patrol. On 7/4/14 he was dispatched to an accident and on the way his squad car collided with another vehicle, killing the occupants of the other car.
Reps twice declined to give a voluntary report about the crash. Twelve days later, Reps received a call from his commander, who told him that instead of submitting a taped statement he could send in a written report. Reps complied with the request and submitted a written report.
A grand jury was convened to consider charges against Reps, and the prosecutor introduced into evidence the written report made by Reps. Reps was indicted on two counts of Manslaughter in the Second Degree and one count of Failure to Drive with Due Care. Reps filed a motion to dismiss the indictment, arguing that under Garrity his report was a compelled statement and could not be used against him in a criminal prosecution.
Under the Garrity rule, a statement is considered to be “compelled” if 1) the employee believed that the statement was required as a condition of employment; and 2) the employee’s belief was reasonable under the circumstances.
The trial court found that it was clear that Reps held a belief that if he refused to complete the report he would be fired. This was clear because he retained an attorney in completing the report and originally refused to give a voluntary report and only gave a statement after an order from his commander. The court also found that Reps belief that he would be fired if he refused the commander’s order was reasonable. The policy of the State Patrol stated that a report must be filed after a critical incident. This required Reps to file a report as part of his responsibilities as a trooper.
The court found the statement to be compelled as Reps was stuck between either invoking his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination or being terminated for not submitting a report.
State of Minnesota v. Reps, #25-CR-14-2971 (Minn. Dist. Ct. 2015)