The news is coming too fast to keep up with via individual posts. It’s a good problem to have. Here’s some of the latest:
Whew! Stay tuned here to Free Keene for the latest in liberty-oriented news and activism from NH.
The last time we heard about how many taxpayer dollars the city of Keene has spent on their frivolous lawsuit to try to crush the rights of Keene’s Robin Hooders, it was December of 2013, the year they filed the suits against us.
Hey, we’ve got legal bills to pay.
Now, two years later, having lost at superior court in 2013, then mostly losing at the NH supreme court, and losing again at superior court this year, the city’s racked up a total legal bill of at least $78,000! This, according to mayor Kendall Lane in a recent interview on WKBK’s morning show.
Keene’s Robin Hooders were feeding expired parking meters in relative obscurity until the city filed its suit in May of 2013. That suit blew up into a huge storm of publicity, making Keene’s government the laughingstock of the world.
Determined not to show any good sense, the city gang continued to lavish tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars on failure after failure in this case. They hired the go-to law firm for all NH municipalities, “Gallagher, Callahan, and Gartrell” (the same firm that lost the Gericke case, which upheld the right to record police). Hey, it’s not like it’s the city’s money – they stole it from Keene’s productive class – the people.
Attorney Charles Bauer is getting very rich from taxpayer dollars.
Now the case is going back to the NH supreme court on appeal, but mayor Lane claims the law firm is going to cut them a break on this appeal and do it pro-bono. How generous of Bauer’s firm! (Robin Hood attorney Jon Meyer has been pro-bono from day one.)
Will they successfully overturn the Cheshire superior court’s refusal to grant their requested injunction against Robin Hooders?
No date has been set for the hearing – stay tuned here to Free Keene for the latest on this ridiculous saga.
After the city’s latest failure at the superior court, once again the city has given us an early Christmas present by deciding to appeal the most recent decision to the NH Supreme court.
The city’s expensive attorneys from Gallagher, Callahan & Gartrell waited until the LAST possible day they could file to legally file the appeal (PDF). The city has already spent countless dollars on this case and this latest appeal is a further waste of taxpayer funds.
The appeal is for the Supreme court to look ONLY at the lower court’s ruling regarding the request for the “buffer zone” injunction. The NH Supreme court has already decided the allegations of “tortious interference”, “civil conspiracy”, “negligence”, and the demand for financial compensation were unfounded and the activities engaged in by the Robin Hooders are protected by the first amendment.
Once again the robin hooders will be represented by the NH Civil Liberties Union’s Jon Meyer who expects the case to be heard sometime in the summer of 2016, three years after the case was first filed in 2013. We will keep you up-to-date on any further developments.
It could have been worse. A few weeks ago at the Finance, Organization, and Personnel committee meeting, the councilors voted 4-1 to raise parking meter rates by 50% and also to increase the long-term parking permit fees. The good news is they rejected the city parking department’s request for later enforcement hours as well as increasing parking fines. The full council voted 14-1 on the same recently. The one dissenting vote was not because the dissenter, outgoing councilor Kris Roberts is against parking enforcement – he’s mad the enforcers didn’t get everything they wanted from the council.
Parking Rates in Keene Now Up 50%
By no means is this a pro-liberty decision by the Keene city council, but perhaps the hundreds of petition signatures by business owners downtown and their clients had some impact on the council’s ultimate decision to grow the parking department’s collections, but not to the level the enforcers wanted.
As I reported earlier this week, Robin Hood of Keene has again been victorious in court as the city of Keene’s suits have failed. The news got covered in a bunch of news sources via the AP pickup as well as articles in the Keene Sentinel, Union Leader, and the front page of the Concord Monitor!
It has been a long road, but thanks to free speech attorney Jon Meyer and judge John C Kissinger of the Cheshire superior court, Keene’s Robin Hooders are again victorious! Nearly two years ago, the same court dismissed the two cases brought against the charitable meter-feeders, alleging we were “threatening, intimidating, and harassing” their parking enforcement officers and demanding a 50ft floating, constitution-free buffer zone to protect them.
Robin Hooders Victorious – AGAIN.
The city appealed to the NH supreme court which ultimately upheld the superior court’s dismissal except for one part. They affirmed the lower court’s ruling to dismiss based on free speech grounds, but said the superior court needed to look at the request for the “buffer zone” injunction separately from the allegations of “tortious interference”, “civil conspiracy”, “negligence”, and the demand for financial compensation, all of which the city failed to prove to the court’s satisfaction.
Thankfully, the superior court agreed with attorney Meyer’s arguments and denied the city’s request for any injunction against us whatsoever! This effectively kills their case, unless they decide to continue spending ridiculous amounts of taxpayer money to appeal this latest failure to the NH supreme court.
The city, which had originally wanted a 50 foot floating buffer zone around each enforcer that would prevent all speech and recording by the Robin Hooders, had whittled that down over the 2.5 years this has been in court to a 5-10ft zone that would only be temporary and only if the parking enforcer requested said distance from the Robin Hooder. Mind you, we generally do not wish to be so close to them – it’s best to fill meters at a greater distance, so as to have enough time to fill the meter and leave the Robin Hood calling card on the windshield, BEFORE the parking enforcer catches up to us and gets ahead. That would mean she could successfully write a ticket if she gets ahead, so having distance is my goal, but the enforcer is constantly trying to close that gap, so sometimes we do get within ten feet. That would mean that such an injunction (besides being unconstitutional) would also prevent us from Robin Hooding, as anytime the enforcer managed to close the gap, we’d be subject to arrest for “contempt of court”.
James Cleaveland, Attorney Jon Meyer, Ian Freeman
In a fifteen-page order issued on 11/20, Kissinger writes of the city’s request for injunction:
The Court cannot conceive of any more narrow or alternative relief that would provide any meaningful protection to the PEOs without running afoul of the Respondents’ First Amendment rights…the government interests here are not sufficient to warrant an infringement on the Respondents’ First Amendment rights. Any injunction requiring a buffer zone of any meaningful distance would require a significant change in the method used by the Respondents to disseminate their protected speech.
So, despite the city’s interests in their parking enforcement continuing unabated, their significantly-reduced proposal for injunction is still beyond what is constitutionally permissible, and further, the court could not think of any lesser restrictions that would pass constitutional muster.
Kissinger, in his conclusion, does remind the city that if Robin Hooders’ conduct is rising to the level of violating criminal statutes, that they can bring such charges. Of course, the reason they never have brought criminal harassment or assault charges is because Robin Hooders are peaceful. There is zero evidence of “harassment, threatening, or intimidating” – the claims the city has long libeled us with throughout this lawsuit.
In a classic case of projection, the people in this who are actually harassing, threatening, and intimidating others are the parking enforcers. They harass, threaten, and intimidate the good motorists of Keene six days a week by giving them threatening tickets for just trying to do some business downtown. Those tickets threaten, intimidate, and harass their victims into paying their fines so as to avoid the threat of having their car stolen. Talk about intimidation! This is why Robin Hood of Keene exists – we are here to save people from having to deal with the city’s threats. That’s always been the primary motivation, at least for me. I certainly don’t speak for everyone.
The poor, innocent parking enforcers.
If the parking enforcers don’t like being called out for their threatening, intimidating, and harassing behavior, they should get jobs in the productive economy. Until the city council ends the parking department and turns over the spaces to downtown businesses to decide how to administer, per market forces, Robin Hooding will continue to rescue peaceful motorists from the threats of the city government.
The city has 30 days to appeal this latest failure. Stay tuned here to Free Keene for the latest.