Documents filed Thursday in Rice County court ask that a suit, in which a Faribault Police officer claimed she was falsely labeled a liar, be dismissed.
Attorneys for the officer, Lisa Petricka, along with attorneys for the defendants in the case — the city of Faribault and Rice County — have made the request, stipulating that if a judge approves, Petricka can’t file another lawsuit based on the same issue.
No reason was given for the dismissal, and attorneys for all three parties did not immediately return calls seeking comment.
A complaint filed Aug. 22, 2018, claimed that Police Chief Andy Bohlen improperly labeled Petricka a liar, ruining her prospects for advancement and ability to earn overtime pay. The suit followed an April 2018 decision by Bohlen to reassign Petricka from patrol duties to coordinating events and downtown parking enforcement, which a non-licensed officer would typically perform.
The change, which Bohlen detailed in one of two April 2018 letters to Petricka filed along with the suit, were to ensure Petricka doesn’t answer calls that could later require court testimony.
The chief, in one of the letters, explained that a decision by the Rice County Attorney’s Office had labeled Petricka as “Brady designated,” a reference to a 1963 U.S. Supreme Court decision which found that prosecutors are obligated to turn over information which could exonerate a defendant. More recent court rulings related to the 45-year old case have found that evidence pertaining to witnesses’ credibility must also be disclosed.
Petricka’s personnel records, included with the case filing and a separate suit Petricka filed against the city in early 2016, show that Bohlen on occasion has found Petricka to be untruthful on the job. That untruthfulness led Bohlen to ask the City Council to terminate Petricka in March 2015. And while the council approved the request, Petricka was reinstated a year later based on an arbitrator’s ruling.
The County Attorney’s Office updated its policy on Brady officers in April 2018. Shorty after, Bohlen modified Petricka’s duties.
According to the policy, prosecutors must disclose information to the defense that’s relevant to their case, particularly that which may benefit a defendant or may be used to impeach the credibility of prosecution witnesses. It also requires prosecutors to consider whether it’s necessary to have witnesses with known impeachment issues testify in court and says those officers won’t be relied on to sign verified complaints, affidavits or search warrant applications without disclosing those issues to the court.
Court records include a July 1 affidavit from Bohlen and a July 12 order from Judge Christine Long preventing the deposition of County Attorney John Fossum. In the order, Long agreed with the County Attorney’s Office that information it sought from Fossum could be obtained by other methods.
“We’re obviously glad that this matter is over and behind us,” said Faribault City Administrator Tim Murray.
The complaint, based on a designation made by the County Attorney’s Office, was out of the city’s control, he said.
“I feel like there’s a lot better things for everybody to spend their money on,” he said.