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Discredited officer Neri fights back
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Long-time Ceres police detective Mark Neri says the Stanislaus County District Attorney's Office blacklisted him out of police work and is preparing to fight his dismissal.

A 19-year veteran of the Ceres Police Department, Neri was released from duty on March 9, 2009. According to his attorney, Joy Rosenquist of the Goyette law firm in Sacramento, Neri was unjustly placed on what's known as the Brady List, a list of officers who are deemed not credible in court by district attorneys. The List comes from a 1963 Supreme Court ruling that requires prosecutors to tell defense attorneys about any police officers who may have credibility issues on the witness stand.

Typically an officer is placed on the list, said Rosenquist, based on acts of moral failure, such as embezzlement or fraud. Being on the list meant that the D.A.'s office would not be calling on Neri to testify in cases in which he made an arrest. Placement on the list essentially caused the Ceres Police Department to release him.

"The city could not keep him," said Rosenquist. "If a detective cannot testify ... then he doesn't have a career."

Rosenquist said her client was placed on the list "based on junk. Some of it was really stale like a 1993 divorce records."

Carol Shipley of the Stanislaus County District Attorney's Office would not comment on the case nor give information on the criteria for placement on the list.

City Attorney Mike Lyions also would not comment on any aspect of the case since Neri's personnel files are private and releasing them would "be violating his right to privacy."

"There are some theories of where it came from," said Rosenquist. "But we're not sure why the DA's office took such a hard line against him. They offered him no probation."

She said the city of Ceres contested Neri's placement on the Brady List but the District Attorney's Office stuck by its decision.

Rosenquit said she's planning a suit against the Stanislaus County District Attorney's office, preparing a writ to challenge its policies and procedure.

Rosenquist said her client has "a problem" with the way the D.A.'s office sent out a CD with 500 pages of documents relating to Neri's case to defense attorneys in the area.

She said she will challenge the county's Brady List procedure and be shown why Neri was added.

"It's not going to be ending anytime soon," said Rosenquist.

Neri appealed his termination and underwent a hearing conducted by a three-person panel formed by Lyions. The panel stood by the city's dismissal of Neri because of his problems with the D.A.'s office.

The Ceres City Council took no action on the matter in an April 13 closed session.

Neri was hired by the Ceres Police Department on Aug. 21, 1995. He was later promoted sergeant on May 10, 2000 but demoted on Aug. 6, 2004. Officials would not say what triggered the demotion.Neri had been placed on administrative leave as the city negotiated with the D.A.'s office but he was eventually terminated.

Rosenquist called her client "a great employee who led to a lot of missing persons discovery."

Neri has found a job which he hopes is temporary. He'd like his job back.

"He's holding up but he's basically got his eggs in this basket."