Trials in Salem, New Hampshire


No, not that Salem. This past Monday I went to Rich Paul’s hearing. I have been in court in New Hampshire before, and have seen videos of court proceedings in New Hampshire. I am fairly sure that most, if not all of these, took place in Keene. I have lived in New Hampshire for a little over seven months and so far my impression of the gang is that they tend to play by their own rules and they are one of the least oppressive gangs I have come across. Not freedom by any means, but better than anything I had ever hoped to see.
That characterization of Keene, NH or NH might not be a fair representation of the entire story. No gang leader wakes up one day and says “Hey, I think maybe I’ll start following at least the Constitution, quit making illegal arrests, and be somewhat less oppressive.” I’m just really happy, and still somewhat in disbelief, about the fact that I can walk around on the sidewalk, drive at night, tell jurors about nullification *on state “property*,” and warn people about checkpoints in complete safety. I don’t have people walking up to me telling me I look suspicious with their gun half-drawn. But you don’t get that way for nothing. Since we don’t have the resources (and some of us don’t have the philosophical consistency) to actually get rid of the problem, people who came before me had to fight issues up and bring attention to problems to the point where the State decided that the best thing to do is retreat.
So it makes sense to me that Keene is less un-free than Salem. When we walked into court one of the guards asked Ian what his camera was (it was in a bag, so it wasn’t obviously a camera). They then asked if there was anything going on that they didn’t know about. In Tammany they would have just not let him in with it, and presently in Keene I’m pretty sure they would have just let him in. In Salem they asked him for press credentials- which is utterly legally irrelevant. The guard at the security checkpoint directed us to a line of people, which was really confusing to me. I had assumed that we’d be walking into a court room. I found out that it was a line to talk to the prosecutor- before making an appearance. One person seemed to me to have an attorney. This seemed highly problematic to me as your first appearance is typically when you figure out what you are going to do about an attorney. People were signing pleas before they ever saw a judge, an attorney, or the inside of a courtroom. I heard the prosecutor tell one person that if he didn’t plea today then the penalty would be higher, and he was generally discouraging people from seeking lawyers or hearings. It would be illegal for a judge to do this.
We got to the front of the line and walked into the room. I was honestly worried about the prosecutor not wanting to let extra people in, but I walked in like I owned the place and that seemed to be what the rest of us did. The prosecutor immediately told Ian that he needed to get the camera out of there. Rich responded that he wanted it to be filmed. At which point the prosecutor refused to talk to him because “I’m not going to be filmed.” He told Rich that he would talk to him “out there.” I’m not sure where “there” is or why its better to be filmed at that location than in the office. More importantly, I’m not sure why the prosecutor would be opposed to having plea offers filmed. Nothing can realistically be taken out of context because courthouses tend to… keep records of things. None of the parties were underage, none of the victims were underage or otherwise protected (or existing) so its not sealed. And prosecutors are lawyers; the law is their job- they don’t have the usual excuse that there is some obscure or asinine law that they don’t know about while doing their job.
Then we went into the courtroom, which had the pervasive appearance of being a revenue stream. (Some government agencies attempt to hide that sort of thing.) I had to watch the camera for a while and two prosecutors, for whatever reason, decided to stand against the back wall and kept standing closer to me. I don’t know for sure that this was intended to be intimidating, but there didn’t seem to be any other reason for it. When Ian got back I went and sat down. Even though I had my phone on silent, the alarm went off. I turned it off as quickly as possible as I have this fear of State agents. If I had been in Tammany, they would have taken the phone and fined me a minimum of $50. To their credit the, I’m assuming he was a bailiff, just told me to take it out and come back once I’m not using it. I don’t think that I saw a single defense attorney in the entire courtroom. In fact, I hope that that’s the case because all of the lawyers that I did see appeared to be operating as prosecutors. (Unfortunately, if you have crappy defense attorneys sometimes it can be difficult to tell the difference.) The charge was dropped to just below New Hampshire’s threshold for requiring a jury.

Keene Man Wears “FUCK COPS” Shirt to Trial on Disorderly Conduct Charge

Brandon Pinney Fuck Cops

Brandon Pinney Awaits Trial in a “Fuck Cops” Handmade Shirt

Brandon Pinney is a NH native who is now facing a year in jail for telling state police to fuck off. His is a classic case of being oppressed for freedom of speech. Historically, people arrested for flipping off or telling off police have been vindicated on appeal. It may not be nice to say mean things to cops, but freedom of speech is meant to protect unpopular speech.

Brandon was arrested at Surry Dam when after doing five-miles over the speed limit he was confronted by a forest ranger. We don’t know exactly how their interaction went, because Brandon did not record video. According to Brandon, the ranger berated him about the speeding and Brandon blew him off in an unkind manner. The ranger then said he would be calling the police and Brandon followed him back to his office. The ranger claims Brandon was pounding on the office door yelling at him, while Brandon says he was not pounding on the door and was in no way threatening the man.

However, the ranger’s testimony was that he was frightened and when state police arrived, Brandon told them to fuck off, and when he repeated it at the request of one of the staties, Brandon was arrested.

Here’s full video of Brandon’s trial in Keene district court from January and the sentencing hearing from February. As judge Edward J Burke found Brandon guilty, Brandon and his attorney will be appealing to a jury trial. Stay tuned here to Free Keene for the latest.

One note – during trial, Burke said nothing about his shirt, but at sentencing, wearing the same shirt, Brandon was told if he did it again it would be contempt of court. Not only can you not express yourself to police, you can’t express yourself via your wardrobe. Whatever happened to freedom? You generally don’t find it at the district court level.

Snowden, Ulbricht and the myth of a fair trial

It was the first official event hosted by the Free State Project after the February 3 announcement that the group had reached it’s goal of 20,000 signers on the statement of intent to move to New Hampshire to “exert the fullest practical effort toward the creation of a society in which the maximum role of government is the protection of individuals’ rights to life, liberty, and property.” Liberty Forum 2016 was part celebration of all that has been accomplished over the past 15 years by the nearly 2,000 early movers, i.e. people who made the move to New Hampshire for the Free State Project prior to the move being triggered, and part conference on how to move forward. (more…)

Judge Dismisses “Free The Nipple” Charges on Technicality, Issues Prudish Order

Free the Nipple Hampton Beach

Free the Nipple, Hampton Beach 2015

In the Summer of 2015, Heidi Lilley and B. Liz MacKinnon were ticketed on Gilford beach in alleged violation of the town’s ordinances. In late December, they went to trial at Laconia district court and Free State Project early mover and attorney Dan Hynes put on an excellent defense. Judge James M. Carroll took the case under advisement and has now issued his six-page order: both cases are dismissed!

Don’t get too excited. If you read the order, you’ll find that Judge Carroll is no hero of constitutional rights or equality. Page three of his order ridiculously cites the private Motion Picture Association of America’s ratings system as evidence of a supposed “societal desire” to regulate female toplessness. Carroll argues that because the state’s three prudish witnesses (the three snitches) don’t appreciate female toplessness and because the town gave notice of the existence of the ordinance, that somehow means the town ordinance doesn’t violate the Equal Protection Clause of the US Constitution or Article 1 of the NH Constitution’s Bill of Rights.

Given that Article 1 only mentions men when it says, “All men are born equally free and independent”, is it Judge Carroll’s opinion that only men were born free and that women can be told what to wear, for the good of “society”? He’s not foolish enough to come right out and say that, but his order does make excuse after outrageous excuse for the town’s ordinance, claiming it’s constitutionally sound:

The township’s compelling interest is met in maintaining the beach as a natural resource to be enjoyed by young and old , men and women, families and single persons while preserving appropriate standards that allow the township to maintain their local values and mores…The Court does not find that the prohibition violates any constitutionally protected right…the movement “does not have ‘a right to impose one’s lifestyle on other who have an equal right to be left alone.

Topless Tuesday, Keene's Central Square, 2010

Topless Tuesday, Keene’s Central Square, 2010

So, if the social mores were that all women must wear burqas, because seeing any skin at all bothered people, it sounds like Carroll would consider that mandate constitutional as well.

Though Carroll defends the right to marry either gender, he says that such marriage is a protected right, while toplessness is not. On the final page, he claims the toplessness in this case had no artistic value, while on page three he acknowledges the female nipple “has been the subject of great beauty in art”. Apparently Carroll is an art critic now, too.

Ultimately, Carroll decides the case in the favor of the defendants, but not on the excellent constitutional or equal protection arguments made by attorney Hynes, but simply on a technicality of the system: (more…)

Video of the Jury Nullification Panel @ Keenevention 2015

Jury Nullification Panel @ Keenevention 2015

The First Jury Nullification Panel @ Keenevention

NH Jury board member James Davis headed up Keenevention‘s first-ever panel on some of 2015’s hottest activism – jury nullification. Nullification outreach really took off in 2015, spreading from Keene and Grafton to six other courthouses across the state.

Where do we go from here? Expert jury outreach panelists included Rich Paul of the Church of the Invisible Hand, Cathleen Converse who successfully nullified charges against a cannabis grower, Derrick J Freeman of Flaming Freedom, and Ian Freeman of Free Keene.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d9MHc4mDY70

Big thanks to our 2015 video sponsor – Roberts & Roberts Brokerage – when you’re serious about precious metals – they take bitcoin!

Stay tuned to the Keenevention blog for more videos weekly and other media from the event. You can also follow the new Keenevention Twitter and Keenevention’s facebook page.

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