Following a hearing, the Superior Court of Glynn County granted Gary Whittle's motion to withdraw his guilty plea based, in part, on a finding that Glynn County Police Lieutenant David Matthew Haney failed to disclose potentially impeaching evidence about a colleague who investigated Whittle. See Giglio v. United States, 405 U.S. 150, 92 S.Ct. 763, 31 L.Ed.2d 104 (1972); Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83, 83 S.Ct. 1194, 10 L.Ed.2d 215 (1963).
Under Georgia law, "a trial court's decision with respect to standing will not be reversed absent clear error, although we review de novo any questions of law inherent in that decision." (Citation and punctuation omitted.) Callaway Blue Springs, LLLP v. West Basin Capital, LLC, 341 Ga.App. 535,
Following four separate evidentiary hearings, including testimony by Haney, the trial court granted Whittle's motion to withdraw his guilty plea. In its 25-page order, the trial court detailed Haney's knowledge, from as early as November 16, 2017, that the investigator in Whittle's case, Officer James Cassada, was engaging in a sexual relationship with a confidential informant and that Cassada had entered a substance abuse treatment facility in Jacksonville, Florida. Specifically, Haney's knowledge was the result of at least three text message exchanges with Cassada's wife, a telephone call from Cassada's wife notifying Haney of Cassada's relationship with the confidential informant, and a lunch meeting with Cassada.
The trial court found that, despite Haney's knowledge of Cassada's sexual relationship with the confidential informant, "[n]o written record, no inquiry, no internal affairs investigation, and no action resulted from any of these reports...."
In response to the trial court's order, Haney filed a motion to intervene in which he asked for a hearing, with notice and an opportunity to be heard, and that the trial court "[r]econsider and reverse the Giglio finding...."
In a single enumeration of error, Haney contends that the trial court erred in denying his motion to intervene or in providing him "a hearing to challenge the court's findings regarding his conduct under Giglio." See Garrity v. New Jersey, 385 U.S. 493, 87 S.Ct. 616, 17 L.Ed.2d 562 (1967) (recognizing law enforcement officer's right to remain silent during an investigation by other state
At the outset, neither party has addressed squarely the fundamental question of standing, upon which the trial court based its order.
Even assuming Georgia law recognized a right to intervene in a state criminal proceeding by a law enforcement officer impacted by a Giglio ruling, we conclude that Haney lacks standing to intervene because he has not demonstrated that he has suffered a concrete and particularized injury as a result of the trial court's Giglio finding. Haney does not allege that he has lost his current job, that the circumstances of his current job have changed for the worse, that his employment has been threatened, that he has been denied other employment, or that his prospects for other employment have diminished as a result of the trial court's finding in Whittle's case. In fact, Haney stated that he had been an officer with the Glynn County Police Department since 2006 and that he intended "to complete [his] career there[,]" further indicating that he was not actively seeking other employment due to any change in his employment. Instead, Haney offers generic, speculative statements that the trial court's order constituted a "`death order' to [his] career" and that the order "will have an adverse impact on [his] job, career and certification." These statements fall well short of what is required to establish standing. See generally Sustainable Coast, 324 Ga. App. at 764, 751 S.E.2d 555; compare Byrne v. Clinton, 410 F.Supp.3d 109, 118(III)(A)(1) (D. D. C. 2019) (finding that "`conjectural or hypothetical' allegations of [reputational] injury are insufficient to establish standing") (citation omitted); NRDC, Inc. v. Wheeler, 367 F.Supp.3d 219, 231(III)(B) (S. D. N. Y. 2019) (recognizing that "an injury to reputation will satisfy the injury element of standing [and that] such an injury must be `concrete and particularized' and `actual or imminent,' and not `conjectural or hypothetical,'" and holding that the plaintiffs did "not allege with any additional specificity what sort of actual, tangible harm to their reputations they have suffered or will suffer") (citations and emphasis omitted); Southwest Environmental Center v. Sessions, 355 F.Supp.3d 1121, 1132(I)(A)(2) (D. N. M. 2018) ("Reputational injury must be accompanied by concrete harm in order to establish an injury in fact.") (emphasis omitted); Barker v. Conroy, 282 F.Supp.3d 346, 358(III)(A)(1)(c) (D. D. C. 2017) (holding that plaintiff's "alleged future injury from an alleged loss of reputational benefits is too speculative because [the plaintiff] fail[ed] to show that his alleged stigmatic injury is concrete or particularized, providing no examples of how or when such an injury may be likely to occur"). As a result, we conclude that the trial court did not err
In sum, we conclude that, even if intervention in a state criminal proceedings were available under the circumstances of this case, which we do not decide, Haney has failed to demonstrate standing to intervene. Accordingly, we affirm the trial court's order denying Haney's motion to intervene.
McFadden, C. J., and Doyle, P. J., concur.