Articles Posted in New Hampshire Supreme Court

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Defendant Tommy Page appealed after a jury convicted him of first degree murder and falsification of physical evidence. He argued the trial court erred by: (1) denying his motion to suppress photographs found on his cell phone; (2) denying his motion to admit, as substantive evidence, prior statements by the victim’s mother that she did not want to be alone with the victim because she was having “bad thoughts”; and (3) failing to instruct the jury that to convict on the first degree murder charge, it had to find that the defendant was aware that his conduct was “practically certain” to cause the victim’s death. Finding no reversible error, the New Hampshire Supreme Court affirmed Page's convictions. View "New Hampshire v. Page" on Justia Law

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Defendant Reilly Leith appealed her conviction for theft by unauthorized taking. Specifically, she was accused of shoplifting approximately thirty items from a Newington department store in 2013. She raised issues concerning the admissibility and sufficiency of the evidence presented by the State to establish that the value of the stolen property exceeded $1,000, and thus rendered the offense a class B felony. Finding no reversible error, the New Hampshire Supreme Court affirmed her conviction. View "New Hampshire v. Leith" on Justia Law

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Jose Batista-Salva, appealed his conviction for witness tampering following a jury trial in Superior Court. He was accused of the armed robbery of a Wendy's in Nashua, New Hampshire; he used to work at the restaurant, and though he was wearing a bandana to obscure his face, a manager there believed he recognized the robber's voice as Batista-Salva's. Batista-Salva raised three arguments on appeal, each of which was premised on an underlying argument that the witness tampering indictment was impermissibly constructively amended. To the extent his arguments were not preserved, he asked the New Hampshire Supreme Court to waive our preservation requirement or consider them under plain error review. The Court declined, finding that the record in this case was ambiguous as to whether defendant relied on the factual allegations in the indictment in defending against the witness tampering charge. The Court declined to waive the preservation requirement in the absence of the record it needed to properly evaluate the merits of defendant's argument. Given these conclusions, the court did not consider any of defendant's other arguments, rejecting the premise on which they relied. As such, the Court affirmed the trial court. View "New Hampshire v. Batista-Salva" on Justia Law

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Petitioner, corporate surety Second Chance Bail Bonds, appealed a superior court order requiring that a $10,000 bond petitioner posted for defendant James Castine be forfeited after defendant violated several bail conditions. On appeal, petitioner argued the trial court erred because it can order forfeiture of a bond only if a defendant fails to appear for a court date, and not for violation of other bail conditions. Alternatively, petitioner argues that the trial court erred by ordering forfeiture of the entire $10,000 bond. Finding no reversible error, the New Hampshire Supreme Court affirmed the bond forfeiture. View "Petition of Second Chance Bail Bonds (New Hampshire v. Castine)" on Justia Law

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Defendant Edward Proctor was convicted by jury on one count of violating RSA 632-A:10, I, which prohibited people convicted of certain offenses from "knowingly undertak[ing] employment or volunteer service involving the care, instruction or guidance of minor children." Defendant was previously convicted of sexual assault, and at the time of the events leading to his conviction, was on parole. As a result of his conviction, he was required to report quarterly to the local police department so as to initial or sign a sex offender registration form. By initialing or signing the form, the defendant acknowledged that he could not work in positions involving children, including, but not limited to, providing service as a teacher, coach, daycare worker, scout master, summer camp counselor, guidance counselor, or school administrator. Defendant operated his own landscaping business that provided services such as snow-blowing and yard work. In February 2016, defendant provided snow-blowing services for the neighbor of a juvenile in Hooksett. Initially, defendant hired the juvenile to clear the neighbor’s driveway for him. In May 2016, defendant hired the juvenile to work for him on other jobs. He would pick up the juvenile at the juvenile’s home in Hooksett and drive him to job sites in Deerfield and Northwood. The work involved filling in pot holes, pulling weeds, and laying down bark mulch. Defendant told the juvenile what to do and showed him how to do it. The juvenile’s mother learned that defendant was a registered sex offender and directed her son to cease working for him. Defendant's motion to dismiss the indictment on grounds that the statute was unconstitutional was denied. Focusing on the phrase "the care, instruction or guidance of minor children," the New Hampshire Supreme Court concluded the statute did not preclude a person with a qualifying conviction from knowingly undertaking employment as a landscaper because landscaping is not a service that "by [its] nature provide[s] access to children." As such, the Court disagreed with the State's argument that "the care, instruction or guidance" of a minor with the supervision of a minor, and reversed the trial court's judgment. View "New Hampshire v. Proctor" on Justia Law

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Defendants were all arrested and convicted of violating a Laconia Ordinance prohibiting nudity in public places. They jointly moved to dismiss the charges against them, arguing the ordinance violated the guarantee of equal protection and their right to free speech under the State and Federal Constitutions. They further contended that the City of Laconia lacked the authority to enact the ordinance and that the ordinance was preempted by RSA 645:1 (2016). Finally, defendants maintained that the ordinance violated RSA chapter 354-A. Following a hearing, the court denied the defendants’ motion, and subsequently found them guilty of violating the ordinance. The New Hampshire Supreme Court agreed with the trial court that the ordinance merely prohibited those who access public places from doing so in the nude, and made a permissible distinction between the areas of the body that must be covered by each gender. Accordingly, their convictions were affirmed. View "New Hampshire v. Lilley" on Justia Law

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Petitioner Kenneth Hart appealed a superior court order denying his petition for a writ of habeas corpus, alleging that he was incompetent to waive his right to counsel and represent himself at trial and on appeal following his convictions of multiple felonies in February 2000. In 1998, the petitioner was arrested and charged with two alternative counts of aggravated felonious sexual assault (AFSA), one count of witness tampering, and one count of resisting arrest. Prior to trial, the petitioner was provided with court-appointed counsel, but he dismissed three of these attorneys and moved to represent himself at trial. The State objected and, after a hearing on the motion, the Trial Court ruled that “a ‘bona fide and legitimate doubt’ exists as to the [petitioner’s] current competency to stand trial and particularly his ability to clearly and effectively waive his constitutional right to counsel” and ordered that the petitioner submit to a psychiatric evaluation. Upon review of the record of the trial court’s colloquy with petitioner, the New Hampshire Supreme Court agreed with the habeas court’s finding and, thus, the trial court’s conclusion, that petitioner understood the implications of waiving his right to counsel and knowingly, intelligently, and voluntarily waived his right to counsel. Thus, petitioner has not met his burden of establishing a fundamental error of law or fact necessary to obtain writ relief. View "Hart v. Warden, New Hampshire State Prison" on Justia Law

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Defendant Lisa Jacobs appealed both a jury verdict and a permanent injunction issued by the trial court in favor of plaintiffs Lorraine and Peter MacDonald. Defendant seasonally resided in Fitzwilliam, New Hampshire. According to plaintiffs, in 2012 they purchased a vacation home that abuts or was near defendant’s family’s property. Thereafter, defendant began letter-writing campaigns in which she falsely accused plaintiffs of, among other things, a variety of illegal activities. In 2016, plaintiffs sued defendant for defamation. Following a trial, the jury found that defendant’s statements were defamatory and that they were made with malice, thereby warranting the award of special damages. In addition, the trial court, finding defendant’s statements “vast and disturbing,” issued a permanent injunction prohibiting defendant from, inter alia, going within a five-mile radius of plaintiffs’ home in Fitzwilliam and from entering plaintiffs’ hometown in Sterling, Massachusetts. On appeal, defendant argued the trial court erred by: (1) denying a mistrial when plaintiffs’ counsel made a “golden rule” argument to the jury; (2) denying her motion for summary judgment because New Hampshire required proof of “actual damages” for defamation; (3) applying an incorrect standard to plaintiffs’ claim for enhanced compensatory damages; (4) determining that defendant’s speech was not of “public concern;” (5) admitting prejudicial other bad act evidence; and (6) “ordering [her] physical removal . . . from her family’s vacation property” in Fitzwilliam and “banishing” her from Sterling. The New Hampshire Supreme Court found no reversible error and affirmed the trial court's judgment. View "MacDonald v. Jacobs" on Justia Law

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Defendant George Colbath was convicted by jury on 17 charges of aggravated felonious sexual assault (AFSA). On appeal, he argued the Superior Court erred by admitting evidence of certain uncharged conduct pursuant to New Hampshire Rule of Evidence 404(b). He also argued the Superior Court erred by allowing two witnesses to testify about statements that he allegedly made about the victim’s appearance. Finding no reversible error, the New Hampshire Supreme Court affirmed. View "New Hampshire v. Colbath" on Justia Law

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Defendant Joel Martin appealed his convictions for second degree murder, second degree assault, and being a felon in possession of a dangerous weapon. Charges arose from a 2015 fight outside a Manchester, New Hampshire nightclub. He argued the Superior Court erred when it: (1) failed to inquire how he wanted to proceed if his motion to discharge his counsel were granted; and (2) denied his request to instruct the jury to consider the effect of alcohol intoxication on eyewitness identification testimony. Finding no reversible error, the New Hampshire Supreme Court affirmed. View "New Hampshire v. Martin" on Justia Law