Justia Constitutional Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in New Hampshire Supreme Court

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Defendant Paul Spaulding appealed a superior court order that he be detained without bail pending resolution of charges against him. Defendant was charged with two counts of misdemeanor domestic violence, one count of felony reckless conduct, and one count felony criminal threatening. At the arraignment, he pled not guilty. The superior court found through clear and convincing evidence, preventative detention was warranted and ordered defendant be detained. Defendant argued on appeal that there was a lack of proof of clear and convincing evidence of danger. After review of the superior court record, the New Hampshire Supreme Court concurred with the superior court's judgment and affirmed it. View "New Hampshire v. Spaulding" on Justia Law

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Defendant Laryssa Benner appealed a superior court decision imposing a deferred sentence. Defendant was originally sentenced to twelve months in the house of corrections for misdemeanor theft by deception. The sentence was deferred for two years with the trial court retaining jurisdiction up to and after the deferred period to impose or terminate the sentence. On appeal, defendant argued the procedures the trial court used in imposing her sentence violated her due process rights, and further erred in finding there was sufficient evidence she violated certain conditions of her deferred sentence. Finding no reversible error, the New Hampshire Supreme Court affirmed the superior court's judgment. View "New Hampshire v. Benner" on Justia Law

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After a bench trial on stipulated facts, defendant Jean Claude Mfataneza was convicted of aggravated driving while intoxicated. On appeal, he argued the trial court erred in concluding that RSA 265-A:8 (2014) (amended 2016) required only that the Administrative License Suspension (ALS) warnings be reasonably conveyed by reasonable methods in order to satisfy the statute and be admissible at trial, rather than that the warnings be subjectively understood by the individual driver. Finding no reversible error in the trial court's judgment, the New Hampshire Supreme Court affirmed. View "New Hampshire v. Mfataneza" on Justia Law

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Defendant Katlyn Gage Marin was convicted in a bench trial of the second degree murder of her three-year-old daughter, Brielle Gage. Before trial, she moved to suppress statements she made to the police prior to being advised of her Miranda rights. The pre-Miranda statements at issue consisted of three sets of statements: given at her home, in a police cruiser, and in a family waiting room at the police station - each of which contained a different version of the circumstances giving rise to Brielle’s fatal injuries. She also argued that other statements that she made after she had been advised of her Miranda rights should be suppressed because they were tainted by the illegally-obtained pre-Miranda statements. After concluding that defendant was not in custody until after she was advised of her Miranda rights, the trial court denied the defendant’s motion. Finding no reversible error, the New Hampshire Supreme Court affirmed defendant's conviction. View "New Hampshire v. Marin" on Justia Law

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Defendant Katherine Saintil-Brown was convicted by jury for negligent homicide,criminal neglect of an elderly adult, and failure to report adult abuse. Defendant’s convictions were based upon her failure to call for help while her elderly mother, the victim, lay in her own waste on the floor of their shared home for multiple days. On appeal, defendant argued the evidence was insufficient for the jury to have convicted her of the three charges. She also argued the trial court erroneously instructed the jury on the criminal neglect of an elderly adult charge and that this error required reversal of her conviction on that charge. As to the jury instruction issue, the State agreed the trial court’s instruction was erroneous and that the error was plain, but asserted the error did not require reversal. Finding no reversible error, the New Hampshire Supreme Court affirmed. View "New Hampshire .v Saintil-Brown" on Justia Law

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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