District Attorney sues Dukes County Sheriff

Legal battle moves to state’s highest court.

Cape and Islands District Attorney Robert Galibois (left), and Dukes County Sheriff Robert Ogden (right).

The Cape and Islands District Attorney has sued the Dukes County Sheriff in the state’s highest court, a significant escalation of the legal fight between two of the Vineyard’s most powerful elected officials over access to potential evidence.

DA Robert Galibois filed the suit Monday against Sheriff Robert Ogden in the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, taking to the Boston court what had been a local battle over Ogden’s refusal to provide so-called Brady material — exculpatory or impeaching evidence that the prosecutor is required to provide criminal defendants — on his deputies.

The lawsuit — officially titled a Verified Complaint and Demand for Relief in the Form of Mandamus — asks the Supreme Judicial Court to determine if Ogden has refused to perform his lawful duties, and if so, order him to provide the deputies’ disciplinary files. 

The DA filed a similar complaint against Barnstable County Sheriff Donna Buckley, who also has declined to hand over her deputies’ disciplinary files.

The legal dispute has been simmering since last year, but erupted in public last month when Galibois filed notices in 10 criminal cases in Edgartown District Court asking judges to set a two-week deadline for Ogden to comply, or hold a hearing about the delay. Galibois later added two cases to the list. 

In court papers, Galibois’ office said Ogden had not complied with months of the DA’s requests for Brady materials. It said the failure to hand over the files could put pending criminal cases in jeopardy.

“What we’re looking for are any records of any employee who was deemed untruthful or engaged in excessive force, or engaged in a sexual harassment,” Galibois told The Times on June 5.

Galibois requested 20 years of Brady materials in January from each of his district’s 24 law enforcement agencies.

“Despite the multiple requests for compliance and repeated communications from the Commonwealth, [Ogden] remains at least partially non-compliant with the obligations of his office,” reads Monday’s complaint.

The complaint adds that Ogden has not provided a list of his employees. 

“The defendant has also refused to provide a list of current employees so that the Commonwealth may make independent inquiries regarding members of the prosecution team,” the complaint says.

The Dukes County Sheriff’s office, according to Ogden, has 49 personnel, including 30 deputies in corrections and telecommunications, and the rest in administration. 

Ogden told The Times last week that his office likely had hundreds of employees over the last 20 years, and called the 20-year request “a gargantuan amount.”

Ogden also told The Times that his office had “reached out” and offered to set up a working agreement for pending cases.

“I don’t want bad police on the street either,” he said.

Two of the 12 criminal cases in which the DA filed Brady notices have been dismissed. One domestic violence case was dismissed after the alleged victim did not appear in court. A drunk driving case was dismissed after the prosecutor told the judge that sheriff’s deputies, who had administered Breathalyzer tests and were witnesses, were needed to proceed with the case.

One of the remaining 10 cases involves Devante Santiago, who was charged with multiple felonies in late May for allegedly beating a man outside the Ritz Cafe in Oak Bluffs, after which the man was hospitalized for injuries.

Ogden told The Times on Friday that he did not want to comment on Galibois’ lawsuit against him in the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court because it is pending litigation.


  1. Regarding Sheriff Ogden’s refusal to comply with the law to turn over Brady Materials, DA Galbois’ response to file in the MA Supreme Court, reminds me of those famous words from the Nine Quid Ice Cream Girl, “Bet he can hear me now!”

  2. Curious to know exactly how many staff of DCSO are also law enforcement personnel employed by island municipalities. Would a Brady designation affect both positions?
    I’d think compromised is compromised, unreliable is unreliable. Exculpatory is exculpatory.
    I’d welcome any outcome that puts the Martha’s Vineyard police monster in check.

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