No-finding Verdict in Bicycle Headlamp Trial

2012_12_11_stateactors

It comes as a modest victory that the case of State v Garret Ean, relative to a bicycle headlamp violation dating back to June 2011, was closed without a guilty finding on December 18. Judge M. Kristin Spath issued the order which I received on the 20th stating that, “The court is using its discretion pursuant to RSA 262:42 and placing this complaint on file without a finding for a period of six months…” This ‘neither guilty nor not-guilty’ ruling is a legislative creation for New Hampshire courts which reads, “A complaint against a person…may be placed on file at the discretion of the court, if the violation appears to have been unintentional, or if no person or property could have been endangered thereby.” This provision applies most to the ambiguous motor vehicle statutes and some other infractions that do not fall under the more straightforward criminal code. While I complete a summary article on the entire court performance, here is a brief history of the case chronicled with court documents.

The first court appearance I had for this incident was in September 2011, when I received discovery from the state and traded with them my evidence and witness list. The case was continued a number of times while my witness was traveling. When a date of late September 2012 was set for the trial, I was concerned that my witness may not have returned to New Hampshire by this time. Before I had a chance to file another continuance request, I received one from the state’s attorney Heather Flanner, which requested the trial be moved to a date later than October 25. I did not object to the continuance, but apparently it must have been withdrawn by the prosecution, because on September 28, I received a Notice of Fine from the court, claiming that I had been found guilty in abstentia for a trial date that I had missed on September 25. Because of this, the non-guilty finding is all the more an accomplishment as a guilty verdict and fine were imposed by the court previously. On October 4, I typed up and sent out a motion for reconsideration. I received the state’s objection(1,2) to my reconsideration motion the following week. Humorously, the same attorney who had signed the request for continuance beyond October 25 signed the motion that I be found guilty for failing to appear in September. Fortunately, the presiding judge rejected the state’s objection and signified that my motion was granted when I received notice that the trial date had been rescheduled for December 11. Finally, on December 20, I received what should be the final two pieces of paper(1,2) on the subject.