State Rep Dick Marple Returns to Court, Schools Judge on Jurisdiction, Corporate Government, & More

Judge M. Kristin Spath

Judge M. Kristin Spath of Concord District Court

Just a few weeks after his last appearance in Concord district court, state representative Dick Marple returned Friday afternoon for a nearly 40-minute hearing where he explains his views on why the court does not have jurisdiction over him, among other things.

Marple was arrested as he was campaigning for re-election at the polls in Hooksett, on a “failure to appear” charge relating to a charge for driving while his license is suspended. Marple believes he is not subject to the motor vehicle regulations, as they only apply to automobiles used for commercial purposes. He has citations to back his case (click for PDF of his legal brief filed with the court), but so does the state’s prosecutor.

It’s one of the most interesting cases in recent memory because for a long time we’ve heard all manner of similar claims to what Marple is saying, but virtually none of the courtroom theorists like him have any evidence they’ve actually tried their theories. (Longtime readers of Free Keene may recall I was arrested in Keene district court for “contempt” a decade ago for trying some unusual legal theories out.) At his last appearance, in front of a full courtroom of average court victims, Marple got away with things for which most people would be arrested for “contempt”. Friday, he once again refused to cross the bar, and raised his voice with judge M. Kristin Spath multiple times. However, this time the court scheduled the hearing for 3pm on a Friday when no one else would be around to see it. Thankfully, liberty activists had been given a heads-up the night before, so a small crew headed up from Keene to witness and record the hearing:


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Concord Monitor and NH1 Pick Up Bitcoin Vending Machine Story

Area 23's Bitcoin Vending Machine

Area 23’s Bitcoin Vending Machine

Kudos to the Concord Monitor’s Granite Geek column and to NH1 for covering the story posted here about the new Concord Bitcoin Vending Machine!

David Brooks at the Monitor did a detailed writeup which included him visiting Area 23 to take photos and interview A23 owner Kirk McNeil. It’s a good piece, but whoever wrote the headline got it wrong. NH is not the leader in BVMs for the nation, but we do outperform all of the rest of New England combined.

NH1 did a quick piece just based off of Free Keene’s exclusive article, but they did interestingly include the excellent 90-sec “What is Bitcoin” video from WeUseCoins, which I didn’t have in my original story, so thanks for going the extra mile with that, NH1!

NH’s Fifth Bitcoin Vending Machine Launches in Concord!

Bitcoin Vending Machine Locations in South NH

Bitcoin Vending Machine Locations in Southern NH

Just a few weeks after Portsmouth activists installed a Bitcoin Vending Machine, a fifth NH-based BVM has launched, this one in Concord! Area 23, a bar at 254 N State St (Unit H in the Smokestack Center) is the location of NH’s newest BVM. Area 23 is a newer establishment, having opened its doors in 2015 and it’s been accepting bitcoin from customers as payment from day one.

Longtime Concord liberty activist Kirk McNeil is Area 23’s proprietor. Longtime readers of Free Keene may remember him for making headlines for legalizing nanobreweries in New Hampshire. Kirk said in an interview for Free Keene, “I’m happy to have a location where people can access and utilize alternative currencies and exchange methods.”

Entrepreneur and newer mover David Jurist purchased the Lamassu brand BVM, approached Kirk before anyone else and offered him the opportunity to host the unit at Area 23, given it was already a liberty-and-bitcoin friendly establishment. David told me, “it’s exciting that the capital city of New Hampshire finally has a Bitcoin Vending Machine”. I agree. It’s also timely as one of the state representatives on the “Commission to Study Cryptocurrency” has followed through on her promise to file a bill this year that will ensure bitcoin users do not need to register as “money transmitters”. (more…)

Celebrating Ten Years as NH’s Liberty Activism Destination!

Celebrating 10 YearsWow, what a decade! For a full ten years we’ve covered liberty-oriented news, opinion, and activism here at New Hampshire’s Liberty Activism Destination – Free Keene. We’re celebrating nearly 5,000 posts and over 62,000 comments since December 27th of 2006.

From civil disobedience to political action, from breaking local news coverage to the migration of libertarians here, Free Keene has covered a huge range of activism. In fact, our coverage is so ubiquitous and consistent, in fact that we are frequently accused of creating the activism that we merely reported on.

Without a doubt, Free Keene is the site of record for much of the most noteworthy activism over the last ten years from across the Shire. Other libertarian blogs from across the state have tried to compete, and failed, sadly. I really take no pleasure in this. My initial vision for this site did not include statewide coverage. I’d hoped other blogs would crop up and report on their area’s activism, but we ended up expanding to do that after the ball was dropped everywhere else. (See Free Manch, Free Grafton, etc.)

Some bloggers, like the movers here, have come and gone. The haters have also come and gone over the last decade. Despite our bloggers being targeted for arrests, lawsuits, and physical attacks, Free Keene has not been stopped. To the contrary, while the haters scream out from their comments and blogs about how irrelevant we are, they refute their own assertion by their very attention to us.

The critics might say, “Well, it’s been a decade – why aren’t you free yet?” (more…)

NH Supreme Court Rules Fully in Favor of Keene’s Robin Hooders!

Robin Hood

Vindicated!

More than three years after the City of Keene filed suit against Keene’s “Robin Hooders” (the activists who’ve saved motorists from thousands of parking tickets by feeding expired meters), the case has finally come to a close – at least within the New Hampshire court system. In a short four-page order issued just before Christmas, the NH supreme court affirms the Cheshire superior court’s decision to deny the city’s request for an unconstitutional injunction they’ve been begging for since 2013:

taking into consideration the governmental interest that would be served, the trial court weighed the benefits of the requested relief against the effect that relief would have on the respondents’ constitutionally protected speech, and, based upon the factual record before it, exercised its equitable discretion to deny the proposed injunction.

We won! (Again!) Presuming the city gang does not decide to continue lavishing taxpayer dollars on their expensive private attorneys to take the case to federal court, it should end here. We’ve yet to see the total cost of the several court appearances the city has made, but then-city-manager John MacLean admitted in 2013 that the first round (of four) cost about $20,000. Their private attorneys billed them so much, that on this final round at the supreme court they were claiming to have taken the case “pro bono”. Another way to say that is that the city paid tens-of-thousands for the first three rounds in court and got the fourth free.

James Cleaveland, Attorney Jon Meyer, Ian Freeman

James Cleaveland, Attorney Jon Meyer, Ian Freeman

All the while free speech attorney Jon Meyer of Manchester truly did take the Robin Hooders’ case pro-bono, the entire time. His talent is legendary and he not only brilliantly defended the peaceful activists but proved without a doubt that the city’s parking enforcers were dishonest and ridiculous. There was never any evidence presented that the accused Robin Hooders had “threatened, intimidated, or harassed” the city employees. As if to prove how ridiculous their claims were, parking enforcer Jane desperately stated that anything Garret said, even talking to her about the weather, she considered to be “taunting”. It was laughable but also very serious – the city gang was lying to try to get the judge to order us to stay 50 feet away from the enforcers. (more…)

UBER Grandma Interviewed After Facing Down $6,500 in Fines for Civil Disobedience

Tuesday morning the saga of UBER Grandma came to a close at Portsmouth district court. Stephanie Franz’ trial was scheduled for seven tickets she’s received since October of 2015 for the horrible crime of driving people places without a government permission slip. Rather than thank her for providing the service of getting drunk people home alive (and stopping them from driving themselves home drunk), the “City of Portsmouth” gang decided to ticket her seven times for a total of $6,500! $500 for the first ticket, $1000 each for the rest.

Check out this excellent interview of this courageous civil disobedience activist, recorded outside Portsmouth district court, then keep reading for details on the case:

The city’s argument for threatening the sweet grandmother and other UBER drivers with such ridiculous fines was the claim that more stringent background checks than what UBER provides are necessary to keep passengers safe. However, this argument is obvious garbage, as the city only regulates drivers who charge for their services. If a convicted murderer were to offer rides for free, the regulations wouldn’t apply. Portsmouth’s anti-ride-sharing regulations, passed in Summer of 2015, were created to protect the existing taxi oligopoly. That’s what regulations are really for – not to protect consumers as the government claims, but to protect the established businesses from innovative competition.

Indeed, the cabbies in Portsmouth were the loudest group in support of the regulations. UBER Grandma was also targeted by those same cab drivers. They had been witnessed boxing her in to the curb as she was picking up riders in downtown Portsmouth and even smashed out her tail-light. They also appeared at government hearings in Portsmouth and Concord advocating for more government control of the industry.

Despite the constant attacks by both the police and the cabbies, UBER Grandma was not deterred. She kept driving in civil disobedience to the city’s protectionist ordinances, knowing she had harmed no one, and in fact had helped many people get home safely. She’s a hero for continuing to stand up for her right to do business without asking for permission! (more…)

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