State Supreme Court rules in favor of former Weare officer

Monitor staff
Published: 10/17/2018 5:43:29 PM

A former Weare police officer’s lawsuit against the Hillsborough County Attorney for allegedly withholding public documents will go forward.

The New Hampshire Supreme Court reversed a Hillsborough Superior Court judge’s ruling that dismissed the case brought by the former officer, Lisa Censabella, against County Attorney Dennis Hogan.

Censabella, now living in Nashua, had sued Hogan claiming he withheld public documents after Censabella’s attorney, Tony Soltani, filed several right-to-know requests for information regarding a criminal investigation against a former Weare police sergeant, Kimberly McSweeney.

Soltani never identified Censabella as his client in the RTK filings, and in June 2017, Hillsborough Superior Court Judge Philip Mangones ruled that Censabella therefore had no standing to file a suit against Hogan for allegedly withholding the records.

Censabella appealed the case to New Hampshire’s highest court in August of last year. Arguments were made in March, and the court’s decision to reverse Mangones’s ruling came down Wednesday, sending the case back to superior court for further proceedings.

The case stems from another lawsuit Censabella filed against Weare police, including McSweeney, and town officials alleging wrongful termination in 2015 after six years with the department.

Soltani requested the records from Hogan, revealing that McSweeney was the subject of a criminal investigation. Soltani said the documents are relevant to Censabella’s wrongful-termination case because Weare police Chief Sean Kelly testified in a New Hampshire Department of Labor hearing in 2015 that McSweeney’s input on Censabella’s performance factored into her termination.

In her initial 37-page suit against Weare and several town officials and officers, Censabella alleged that she was “subjected to constant harassment and social isolation” for refusing to be a part of a “smear campaign” to remove former police lieutenant James Carney.

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