The victory is nearly complete, with one exception. The supremes ruled that the lower court needed to consider the city’s request for injunction separately from the claims of “tortious interference” and “conspiracy”. Therefore, the supremes remanded only that detail back to the superior court to decide. If you’ve been reading Free Keene for a while, you may recall that the city’s original suit in 2013 asked for a in injunction of a 50ft radius “buffer zone” around each parking enforcer that would preclude the named Robin Hooders from being in that zone. Eventually, they reduced their request to 30ft, then 10-15ft. The buffer zone concept has previously been ruled unconstitutional in other courts and likely will be again when it goes back to Cheshire superior court.
The rest of the court’s twelve-page opinion backs up the lower court’s dismissal of the city’s outrageous case. The claims of “tortious interference” with the city’s “business” of screwing over people shopping downtown and the claim of “conspiracy” were shut down on a free-speech basis:
However, we need not decide whether a viable tortious interference claim can exist under the circumstances present in this case because we agree with the trial court that holding the respondents liable for tortious interference based upon their alleged activities would infringe upon the respondents’ right to free speech under the First Amendment…we also conclude that the First Amendment bars the City from pursuing its claim that the respondents are liable for conspiring to commit the very same tort.
The city’s lies about the behavior of Robin Hooders (they claimed, without evidence, we were “harassing, threatening, and intimidating” the parking enforcers) had no effect on the court’s decision to dismiss. The court’s judges know that telling government bureaucrats how you feel their job is wrong is fully within free speech protections, even if the bureaucrats don’t want to hear it. Further, the court opinion backed up the Robin Hooders’ non-verbal actions as protected free speech: (more…)
On June 9, the NH Supreme Court released the long awaited ruling in the case of City of Keene v. James Cleaveland, et al (aka Robin Hood of Keene). It looks like Robin Hood of Keene is heading back to court for the request for injunctive relief, the rest of the case was affirmed by the Supreme Court.
Here are three relevant portions of the decision:
“[W]e conclude that the trial court correctly determined that enforcing the City’s tortious interference with contractual relations claim would violate the respondents’ First Amendment rights. Given this conclusion, we need not reach the respondents’ argument that the tortious interference claim is also barred by the State Constitution. (more…)
Today is my birthday, and where else would I want to be at 8:30am except in Judge Burke’s courtroom, awaiting another parking ticket arraignment? Last time I tried the “dead fish” strategy: I didn’t speak during arraignment, I barely spoke during trial, and I was predictably railroaded by the prosecution. Judge Burke found me guilty of two parking violations and fined me $10.
The trial and everything leading up to it costs the court (and therefore the taxpayers) far more than the $10 collected in “revenue”. Not only is it costly for the government to prosecute this victimless crime, it’s also time consuming: the prosecutor was kept busy filing paperwork, gathering witnesses, and preparing his arguments. The entire parking enforcement (which only consists of 2 people) was incapacitated for nearly 4 hours while sequestered for trial. How much money can the city government collect in 8 parking enforcement man-hours? Well, that opportunity was lost because I chose to take these tickets to trial.
If you think this is stupid, you might be surprised that I agree with you. What a waste of time and money! But remember — I didn’t set the system up this way — the people calling themselves “the government” did. And they can stop this charade at any time by simply dismissing the parking tickets. What would they have to lose? They’d certainly have a lot to gain.
Anyway, this time, I chose a new strategy: Go to arraignment with a piece of paper already written out, explaining that I want to plead GUILTY, except the paper is *UNSIGNED*. Once Judge Burke accepts this piece of paper, it becomes part of the record. It is now on the record that I want to plead guilty.
You’d think that would be enough, but Judge Burke did something interesting. He entered a plea of NOT GUILTY on my behalf. Why would he do that? The answer can be found in the following short video from court this morning:
In short, my point was: The judge has demonstrated bias against me, the defendant. Judge Burke is presuming (without evidence) that I am subject to the laws of the State of New Hampshire, but that is one of the elements that must be proven by the prosecution! How can I be forced to be at arraignment if the Judge is not presuming jurisdiction?
What do you think about this strategy? My next step is to file a motion to reverse the plea and motion to have Judge Burke recuse himself because of the bias he demonstrated. He is protecting the prosecutor and doing his job for him by assuming one of the essential elements of the crime: jurisdiction. Without jurisdiction, the case must be dismissed, but he’s not going to let that happen, is he?