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Former district attorney in Maine sued for misconduct

by Kevin Bliss

Former Assistant District Attorney Mary Kellett was sued by Vladek Filler for allegedly withholding and editing exculpatory evidence and advising police not to comply with subpoenas in relation to a 2009 conviction of a sexual assault against Filler, which had been overturned.

Ligia Filler, Vladek’s wife, was involuntarily committed in 2007. While there, she made a series of allegations of abuse by her husband. He had earlier initiated a separation, retaining custody of their two children and had believed the allegations to be in retaliation.

Kellett indicted Vladak Filler on a total of eight different counts on two separate occasions, of which only a misdemeanor assault charge was upheld.

One charge was overturned due to prosecutorial misconduct in which Kellett was reprimanded by the Maine Board of Overseers of the Bar for editing a taped statement of Ligia Filler telling her friend in the absence of police presence that she was only doing this to retain custody of her children.

Kellett also advised police not to comply with the defense’s subpoenas.

Filler later filed a sprawling civil suit against 18 individuals, including Kellett.

She responded with a request for summary dismissal based on an absolute immunity, which was denied. She then filed an interlocutory appeal, which was heard by the First Circuit Court of Appeals.

The Court stated that since this was only on interlocutory appeal, it could only reply to the legality of the challenge and not the factual basis. They held that, in light of the facts presented by Filler, it cannot be discerned that Kellett acted on behalf of the state when she advised police not to honor the defense’s subpoenas. Those subpoenas also pertained to Filler’s divorce proceedings and not the case she was prosecuting.

As to the tampering with evidence, once again Kellett may not have been functioning as an advocate of the state in that Filler may not have been under charges at this time, since his indictment came after his arrest.

Therefore, the court held that it lacks jurisdiction to review the absolute immunity claim until certain facts are developed in discovery. The appeal was dismissed.

See: Filler v. Kellett, ___ F.3d _____ (1st Cir. 2017)

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Related legal case

Filler v. Kellett