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U.S. Supreme Court won't hear Connecticut troopers' appeal in records case

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear an appeal by the Connecticut State Police Union in its challenge of a police accountability law that allows public disclosure of certain state trooper personnel files and internal investigation reports.

At issue were documents in internal probes that end with no finding of wrongdoing. The union argued the 2020 state law violated the 2018-2022 troopers' contract by stripping away its exemptions from state freedom of information laws and allowing such documents to be publicly released.

Union officials say troopers oppose the law because it allows records involving unfounded allegations to become public, possibly tarnishing a trooper’s reputation despite no findings of wrongdoing.

The Supreme Court did not say anything about the case in rejecting it among a host of others, as is typical. The decision upholds rulings by lower federal courts that upheld the state law.

Messages seeking comment were left Monday with representatives of the state police union, state police officials and the state attorney general's office, which defended the law.

The union argued the law violated the contracts clause of the U.S. Constitution, which says states cannot pass laws impairing contracts. But there are exceptions, including if a law was passed for a good public purpose, which state officials argued.

Proponents of the 2020 law said it answered the calls for reform, including accountability and transparency, after the police killings of George Floyd and other Black people.

The law also created a class of inspector general to investigate police use-of-force cases statewide, limited circumstances in which the deadly use of force by police can be justified, and allowed lawsuits in state courts against officers in certain cases.

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