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Man jailed for leaking police documents

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Man jailed for leaking police documents

  • Robert Mullally reported to jail after a judge found him in contempt of court for giving information about Los Angeles police officers who abused their wives and girlfriends to a television reporter.

May 16, 2003 — Robert Mullally began serving a 45-day jail sentence Wednesday at the Oxford (Wis.) Correctional Institution for leaking Los Angeles Police Department documents to a television reporter. The documents showed that the LAPD failed to discipline officers who abused their wives and girl friends.

Mullally, a legal researcher, was hired as an expert witness in 1997 for a lawyer who had sued the LAPD on behalf of a woman who was murdered by her police officer husband.

During litigation, U.S. District Judge William D. Keller ordered the LAPD to turn over documents on officers found to have engaged in domestic violence on the condition that the information not be made public before trial.

Mullally admitted to leaking the documents and was sentenced to 60 days in prison for contempt of court. The U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco (9th Cir.) upheld the conviction but vacated the sentence, noting that the trial judge should give “serious consideration” to the prosecutor’s recommendation that imprisonment “would be extreme.” But when the case was returned to Keller’s court, he again sentenced Mullally to jail but reduced the sentence to 45 days.

Several women’s advocacy groups spoke out again Mullally’s conviction.

“The prosecution of Robert Mullally is tragic, said then-director of the National Center of Women & Policing, Penny Harrington in 2001 statement. “It is outrageous that a whistle blower — who has exposed such serious abuse committed by LAPD officers and the mishandling by the department of complaints against officers involved in domestic violence — is punished while most of the men who committed these acts of violence remain officers in good standing.”

Some experts say Mullally, 59, is the first person in the country jailed for violating a protective order in a civil case.

(Mullally v. City of Los Angeles) JL


© 2003 The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press

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