Matter of Sheriff Officers Assoc. (ex rel. Jackson) v. County of Nassau
Justice F. Dana Winslow
Nassau County moved to unseal correction officer Jackson's testimony in a grand jury proceeding and criminal trial in this action to compel arbitration of an employment grievance. The Union Sheriff Officers Association filed a grievance on Jackson's behalf after her termination. Jackson was acquitted of all criminal charges, and the union sought to proceed with arbitration. The county argued that unsealing the transcripts was necessary for it to defend the arbitration. It alleged it was entitled to unseal the records under Criminal Procedure Law §160.50(1), specifically subdivisions for law enforcement agencies, firearms licensors and peace officer employers. The court disagreed, noting when a police department conducted a disciplinary proceeding on one of its employees it acted as a public employer, not a law enforcement agency. The county was not the agency responsible for issuing a gun license, nor a prospective employer as Jackson sought reinstatement. The court stated the county's appeal to inherent authority was unavailing, and the county failed to justify its use by providing a "compelling demonstration" of necessity, denying the county's motion.