Justia Constitutional Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in New Hampshire Supreme Court
by
The State appealed a circuit court order granting defendant David Almeida's motion to suppress the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) test results. Defendant was charged with driving under the influence of alcohol. The issue this appeal presented for the New Hampshire Supreme Court's review centered on whether the performance of a BAC test on a blood sample, which was drawn by the State with defendant’s valid consent, constituted a search within the meaning of Part I, Article 19 of the New Hampshire Constitution or the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Because the Supreme Court concluded that it was not a search, judgment was reversed and the case remanded for further proceedings. Specifically, the State contended defendant lacked a subjective expectation of privacy in his BAC because he voluntarily gave a blood sample to the State, and that he lacked an objectively reasonable expectation of privacy in his BAC because of the reduced expectation of privacy an individual has while driving. The defendant countered that the BAC test was a search because he had “a significant privacy interest in his blood,” which contains a “vast amount of personal information” including genetic predispositions, family connections, and private medical facts. The Supreme Court agreed with the State. View "New Hampshire v. Almeida" on Justia Law

by
Petitioners Whitman Operating Co., LLC d/b/a Camp Walt Whitman, Wicosuta Operating Co., LLC d/b/a Camp Wicosuta, and Winaukee Operating Co., LLC d/b/a Camp Winaukee (collectively, the Camps), challenged a decision of respondent the Governor’s Office for Emergency Relief and Recovery (the Office for Emergency Relief), to deny their applications for money from the New Hampshire General Assistance and Preservation (GAP) Fund. In July 2020, the Governor authorized the allocation and expenditure of $30 million of CARES Act funds for the GAP Fund “to provide emergency financial relief to New Hampshire businesses and nonprofit organizations impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.” The Camps applied for GAP funding at the end of July 2020. Their applications were denied on September 10, 2020. The form letters notifying the Camps that their applications had been denied stated that “having high liquid assets both personal and business” was one of “[t]he most common reasons” for denying an application. The Camps argued: (1) denying their applications violated their state and federal constitutional rights to equal protection; and (2) the Office for Emergency Relief’s decision deprived them of their state and federal rights to procedural and substantive due process. Finding no deprivation of petitioners' rights, the New Hampshire Supreme Court affirmed the Office for Emergency Relief. View "Petition of Whitman Operating Co., LLC d/b/a Camp Walt Whitman et al." on Justia Law

by
Defendant Elizabeth Seibel appealed after she was convicted at a superior court bench trial on one count of financial exploitation of an elderly person, and two counts of theft by unauthorized taking. The victim was defendant's widowed mother-in-law. Defendant and the victim's son added their names to one of the victim's checking accounts without her knowledge. Defendant and the son withdrew money, and used the victim's funds to purchase a house and pay personal debts. On appeal, defendant challenged the sufficiency of the evidence on all three convictions. Because the State presented sufficient evidence to support each of the defendant’s convictions, the New Hampshire Supreme Court affirmed. View "New Hampshire v. Seibel" on Justia Law

by
Defendant Volodymyr Zhukovskyy appealed a superior court order denying his third motion for an evidentiary bail hearing. Because it concluded that RSA 597:2, III-IV did not require the trial court to hold an evidentiary hearing when the parties disputed facts relevant to dangerousness, and that the trial court sustainably exercised its discretion when it denied the defendant’s motion, the New Hampshire Supreme Court affirmed. View "New Hampshire v. Zhukovskyy" on Justia Law

by
The State appealed a superior court order granting defendant Seth Hinkley's motion to suppress his confession and subsequent statements made during an interview with the police. On appeal, the State argued the trial court erred in finding that the defendant’s confession was involuntary because the police officer’s statements constituted a promise of immunity and the defendant’s confession was induced by the officer’s statements. Because the New Hampshire Supreme Court found no error, judgement was affirmed and the matter remanded for further proceedings. View "New Hampshire v. Hinkley" on Justia Law

by
Plaintiff Anna Carrigan filed suit against defendants, the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services and the Department’s commissioner, alleging they were failing to meet their statutory and constitutional duties as a result of their “irresponsible” spending decisions. She asserted standing under Part I, Article 8 of the New Hampshire Constitution, which provided New Hampshire taxpayers who were eligible to vote with standing to seek a declaration that the State or a local government “has spent, or has approved spending, public funds” in violation of the law. The Superior Court granted defendants’ motion to dismiss for want of standing, and plaintiff appealed. The New Hampshire Supreme Court affirmed because plaintiff failed to challenge any specific spending action or spending approval, by the Department, as necessary to maintain standing under Part I, Article 8. View "Carrigan v. New Hampshire Dept. of Health & Human Services" on Justia Law

by
Defendants, the New Hampshire Secretary of State (Secretary) and the Attorney General (collectively, the State), appealed a superior court order ruling that Laws 2017, chapter 205, also known as Senate Bill 3 (SB 3), was unconstitutional because it unreasonably burdened the right to vote in violation of Part I, Article 11 of the New Hampshire Constitution and violated the equal protection guarantees of the New Hampshire Constitution. After review, the New Hampshire Supreme Court affirmed the trial court’s ruling that SB 3 violated Part I, Article 11 of the State Constitution. Because the Court determined that SB 3 had to be stricken in its entirety, it did not address the State’s assertion that the trial court erred in determining that SB 3 also violated the equal protection guarantees of the State Constitution. View "New Hampshire Democratic Party v. New Hampshire Secretary of State" on Justia Law

by
Plaintiff New Hampshire Alpha of SAE Trust (SAE) appealed a superior court order ruling that the Town of Hanover Zoning Board of Adjustment (ZBA) had subject matter jurisdiction to hear SAE’s administrative appeal in the related case of New Hampshire Alpha of SAE Trust v. Town of Hanover, 172 N.H. 69 (2019) (SAE I). Defendant Town of Hanover (Town) cross-appealed the trial court’s denial of its request for attorney’s fees. Dartmouth College notified the Planning and Zoning Office that the chapter of the New Hampshire Alpha Chapter of Sigma Alpha Epsilon was suspended by the national organization. The College officially derecognized the fraternity, which meant the facility became ineligible to operate as an “I” district student residence. Continued use of the property as a residence would have been a violation of the zoning ordinance. In subsequent proceedings, SAE challenged the ZBA’s jurisdiction to hear SAE’s appeal in the first instance. The Town argued it was entitled to attorney’s fees because SAE’s challenge in this case was frivolous with no good faith basis in fact or law, and asserted that it was only intended to waste time and needlessly delay final judgment in this matter. Finding no reversible error in the superior court’s judgment, the New Hampshire Supreme Court affirmed judgment to SAE’s appeal and the Town’s cross-appeal. View "New Hampshire Alpha of SAE Trust v. Town of Hanover" on Justia Law

by
The State appealed filed an interlocutory appeal of certain superior court rulings which held: (1) the State had to prove, as an element of the offense of driving after suspension pursuant to RSA 263:64, IV, that defendant’s prior driving under the influence (DUI) conviction was the basis of her prior license suspension; (2) the certified case summary offered by the State was admissible, but not dispositive, evidence of the defendant’s prior DUI conviction; and (3) denial of the State’s motion to continue. In December 2018, defendant, Teresa Mercon was arrested and subsequently charged pursuant to RSA 263:64, IV for driving while her license was suspended as a result of a 1997 DUI conviction. In August 2019, she was convicted at circuit court and sentenced to serve a mandatory seven-day jail sentence as required by RSA 263:64, IV. Defendant then appealed to the superior court for a jury trial de novo. Finding no error in the superior court’s rulings, the New Hampshire Supreme Court affirmed and remanded for further proceedings. View "New Hampshire v. Mercon" on Justia Law

by
Defendant Commissioner of the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), appealed a superior court order denying her motion to dismiss and granting the petition for a writ of habeas corpus filed by plaintiff “Jane Doe.” Plaintiff’s petition sought her release from New Hampshire Hospital (NHH) on the ground that she failed to receive a probable cause hearing within three days of her involuntary emergency admission, as required by RSA 135-C:31, I (2015). The trial court ruled in her favor, and finding no reversible error, the New Hampshire Supreme Court affirmed. View "Jane Doe v. New Hampshire Dept. of Health & Human Services" on Justia Law