What happens when a D.C. Superior Court judge says something you swore to under oath was “transparently false?” If you’re Assistant Police Chief Patrick Burke, you get re-nominated to serve on the police complaints board, which handles discipline matters for the Metropolitan Police Department.
This spring, Superior Court Judge Judith Macaluso said she had “great concerns” about Burke’s credibilty after he swore that he’d reviewed certain police policy documents line by line and determined that they couldn’t be released publicly because it would put the public at risk. Macaluso said Burke’s “avowal is transparently false with respect to almost every document” MPD tried to withhold. Almost of the documents MPD tried to keep from being made public—some of which were more than 30 years old—were completely “innocuous,” Macaluso said.
Macaluso’s findings were part of a lawsuit brought by The Partnership for Civil Justice Fund, an advocacy group that was trying to obtain records about MPD’s procedures. Carl Messineo, the group’s legal director, says it’s “outrageous” that the Gray administration is nominating Burke to stay on the complaints board.
“Keeping him on that board is an improper act of the most severe degree,” he says.
Mayor Vince Gray‘s spokesman did not respond to requests for comment. D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson, who heads the council’s judiciary committee, says he was unaware of the judge’s comments towards Burke and says he’ll look into the matter. Burke did not immediately respond to a request, made through MPD, for comment.
Update: Gray’s spokesman’ responds:
While we take Judge Macaluso’s comments seriously and agree that the Metropolitan Police Department erred on the side of too little disclosure, the matter was resolved and no sanctions were ever sought against MPD. Assistant Chief Burke has dedicated the last two decades to protecting the residents of the District of Columbia and has an outstanding service record. To judge him by this one incident, which some have sought to blow far out of proportion, would be shortsighted and unfair.