BOISE — A judge on Monday scheduled a May 2021 jury trial date in the civil case of a Boise police officer who is suing the city because he claims he was retaliated against after he voiced concerns about his supervisor’s unethical behavior.
Cpl. Norman “Denny” Carter in 2018 filed a whistleblower lawsuit, claiming that Boise Police Lt. Greg Oster “openly” sold weapons, both to officers and the public, through his private company out of his police department office. Carter also claimed Oster, who became his supervisor in 2015, retaliated against him after he raised concerns, and that other officials failed to prevent the retaliation.
A June 2018 report by the Boise Human Resources Department found Oster had acted unethically. He’d retired the month before, on May 30, 2018. The report did not find police had retaliated against Carter, however. Carter is still a Boise police officer.
In June of this year, Carter filed another complaint against the city, claiming retaliation had continued as a result of his filing the first complaint. In September, Carter’s attorneys filed a motion to consolidate those two cases. On Monday, 4th District Court Judge Jonathan Medema granted that request.
Consolidation is helpful for attorneys and witnesses for multiple reasons in certain cases. It means, among other things, that because the two cases share evidence and witnesses, those witnesses might not have to be interviewed multiple times about the same incidents.
Because the cases are consolidated, Medema was able to schedule a single trial date for both of them. That date is May 5, 2021, he said in court Monday. Michael Moore, one of the city’s attorneys, said one obstacle in scheduling is that his calendar is already heavily booked for 2020.
Paul J. Augustine, one of Carter’s attorneys, confirmed to the Idaho Press after the hearing that the city’s attorneys could still ask that the two cases be heard in two separate trials. They would have to file a formal motion later on to make that request, however.
As of right now, other specifics in the case aren’t decided. It has not been determined, for instance, how long the trial will last. There’s also no set deadline for discovery — the process through which attorneys trade information and evidence in preparation of a trial. However, Medema did say in court attorneys had to finish that process at least 90 days before the trial is set to begin.
In court Monday, Howard Belodoff, another of Carter’s attorneys, said the discovery process was only just beginning. After Carter, in 2017, wrote a letter to Boise Mayor Dave Bieter, two people investigated Carter’s complaints — the first was an attorney hired by the city, and the second was an employee of the city’s Human Resources Department. Each wrote reports, and included with those reports were many pages of notes and transcripts from their interviews with Boise police officers.
Attorneys representing the city claimed the two reports — as well as the notes, transcripts and audio recordings — were protected by attorney-client privilege, and thus did not have to be given to Carter and his attorneys.
Medema, however, was unconvinced. On Oct. 21, he ordered the city did not have to turn over the actual reports, but wrote they did have to disclose the associated notes, transcripts and audio recordings.
Augustine confirmed to the Idaho Press Monday that he and Belodoff had yet to receive that information.
In court, Moore said, “We will have that to them this week.”
Brady Hall, another attorney representing the city in the case, said he could not comment on the case.