A judge ruled in Knox County Superior Court that a man who had pleaded guilty in a drunken-driving case involving former Rockland police officer Jacob Shirey could withdraw that plea.

ROCKLAND — A judge has allowed a Union man to withdraw his guilty plea in a drunken-driving case from nearly five years ago and urged the district attorney’s office to review all of the cases in which a former Rockland police officer’s testimony was important in obtaining convictions.

Superior Court Justice Daniel Billings issued his ruling in Knox County Superior Court on June 22 in the case of Earle J. Studley.

Studley had pleaded guilty to charges of criminal operating under the influence and unlawful possession of suboxone from an Oct. 11, 2013 traffic stop in Rockland. He pleaded guilty in March 2015 and was given a two-year deferred disposition.

However, before his scheduled sentencing occurred in July 2017, allegations arose about the officer who stopped him, Jacob Shirey.

The city said Shirey resigned from the Rockland Police Department on Jan. 9, 2017, citing personal reasons, but his resignation came as he was being investigated for lying to supervisors about his activities while on duty, according to court documents. The allegations included going home and sleeping while on duty and denying that when confronted by supervisors.

The materials provided to the court were quite disturbing, Billings said in his ruling last month.

“This is not a situation where an officer’s credibility is brought into question by a single incident or a one-time mistake,” Billings said. “The Giglio materials document that former Officer Shirey has exhibited an ongoing pattern of dishonesty that raises questions about the outcome of any matter where his credibility was material to the outcome.”

The U.S. Supreme Court, in its 1972 Giglio v. United States decision, ruled that the prosecution is obligated to turn over evidence that could raise questions about the credibility of any government witnesses.

“Rather than trying to salvage a prosecution that has been tainted by the involvement of a dishonest officer, the state should be reviewing prior convictions involving former Officer Shirey to determine if any of these cases should be reopened,” Billings said.

In May 2017, Superior Court Justice Bruce Mallonee ruled that the state was required to provide information to defendants or their attorneys in 20 criminal cases about information it had concerning Shirey. That ruling came after the district attorney’s office informed the court about credibility concerns surrounding Shirey.

Billings also pointed out in his June 2018 ruling that he had found Shirey not credible in a September 2014 case.

In addition to the criminal cases in which Shirey was the primary officer – many involving drunken driving and drug activity – three administrative hearings against drivers in cases handled by Shirey were canceled in 2017.

Shirey graduated from the Maine Criminal Justice Academy in May 2013 after joining the Rockland department in October 2012.

On Friday, Shirey said it was the first time he had been contacted by anybody regarding the matter.

“I was cleared to go back to work for the police department, and resigned,” Shirey said. “It is unfortunate that this judge’s opinion feels this way.”

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