"All I can do is keep on doing my job the best I know how to and make the decisions I think are appropriate," Chittenden County Prosecutor T.J. Donovan said.
South Burlington Police Corporal Jack O'Connor put Chittenden County's elected head prosecutor T.J. Donovan on the defense, filing a civil lawsuit last year claiming Donovan repeatedly dragged the corporal's name through the mud, refused to take his cases to court, stymied his chances at getting a new police job, and caused lasting emotional distress. O'Connor wanted a cash settlement but Donovan called the corporal's claims of a vendetta bogus.
"In this business, there's always going to be disagreements," Donovan said.
Superior Court Judge Helen Toor dismissed O'Connor's case with prejudice, meaning he can't try re-filing it with the same claims. Regarding the policeman's allegations the prosecutor called him a bad cop and tried to run him out of the county, Toor wrote, "If a State's Attorney has questions about a police officer's honesty, discussing those concerns with staff and the officer's supervisors would be precisely what one would expect him to do in properly discharging his duties. These acts are protected... "
T.J. Donovan: We'll just keep working hard and doing the best job we possibly can for the people of Chittenden County.
Reporter Jack Thurston: Has this case at all impacted your ability or willingness to prosecute cases out of South Burlington?
Donovan: Not at all.
O'Connor told WCAX News he stands by his original court filing and says Judge Toor's ruling was wrong because no one, not even the county's top prosecutor, is above the law, and her finding decided essentially that O'Connor can't sue Donovan. O'Connor wants his day in court, so he filed an appeal to Toor's ruling asking the Vermont Supreme Court to give him that.
Donovan thinks the case is quite unusual, but it happens from time to time that convicted criminals will file lawsuits against investigators, lawyers, or corrections officials. Even if it is a novel case, of course, O'Connor is well within his rights to file the complaint.
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