If you’ve been reading the Free Keene blog for the last year, you know that in Summer of 2013, the NH DMV suspended my driving “privileges” indefinitely, until I got a NH driver’s license. You also know that for many years I have been using the name Ian Freeman without going through the probate process to change my name legally. In my interactions with the state and city, this name-change-in-fact has had mixed results. I was able to successfully register to vote as Ian Freeman and run for office under that name, but most courts would not recognize my name change. Though, there were a couple exceptions, including Concord district and MA’s Palmer district courts. However, most robed men would refuse to recognize it, even though I would cite NH supreme court decision Moskowitz vs Moskowitz that makes it pretty clear that one can change one’s name in NH without probate court, simply by using the new name. They just ignored the decision.
Since I had been ordered to get a drivers’ license under threat of violence, I decided that would be a good time to do a legal name change. (I’d actually tried this a couple of years ago but was stopped when I was arrested for going to court. That no trespass order for which I was arrested was eventually thrown out and the case against me dismissed.)
The DMV had told me my “privileges” would be suspended as of Nov 5th. After that, there was a short window of time where if I got their license, the $100 re-instatement fee would not apply, so I was in a hurry to get it done. The probate court process was simple and relatively quick for government work, but of course, I was paying them $105, and they tend to be more efficient when getting paid. I got the official name change document from the probate court on November 7th and went down to the DMV to get the NH drivers’ license.
I figured I had everything required – old license, voter ID under the name Ian Freeman and name change document from probate, but no – turns out there was an unwritten requirement: they wanted me to go to get some sort of document of name change from Social Security, and agency with which I want no business. I went home to do further research and determined that if I changed my name in the DMV system AFTER getting their license in my birth name, that no Social Security document would be required for that, so the next day I returned to the DMV and turned in my FL license under the name Ian Bernard and got the NH DMV temporary license. I had no idea that this was a criminal offense, and the DMV ladies never advised me of such. They recognized me from before and were well aware I had changed my name legally to Ian Freeman, as I had given them the probate document they day prior. I informed them that it was my intention to change my name on the license eventually, but in the interests of time, I wanted to just get the license right away under my Bernard name. I had no reason to believe this would be later considered fraudulent by the state police! So, the license was issued, I got the hard copy a couple months later, and figured the job was done.
I then decided I wanted to run for school board, as always, under the name Ian Freeman, however, I had previously had my voter ID taken from me by the DMV lady when I tried (and failed) to get the new license under the name Ian Freeman. The school board wanted to see a copy of an ID with the name Ian Freeman, so, figuring that it would be easier to get another voter ID quickly than to do the name change process on my license, I went to the DMV to get another voter ID. They denied me, since they knew I already had a license, even though it was under the name Ian Bernard. Turns out, the school board let me on the ballot after signing an affidavit, so I didn’t need the voter ID after all, but I tried to get another voter ID in Nashua, simply out of curiosity. I wanted to see if the DMV workers who did not know me would also deny me the voter ID, which I should have a right to have, by my understanding of the rules of the system. They also denied me. It was these two attempts that apparently put me on the radar of the state police.
About a month later, two state police detectives showed up at my door, led by Sgt. Andrew Player, who claimed to be investigating the denial of my voter IDs, but was also investigating me. Even though I know better than to talk to the police, I did so anyway, as I did not believe I had done anything wrong in the ID acquisition process and was curious as to the questions they would ask. Of course, as I should know, doing nothing wrong won’t prevent one from being arrested. Yesterday, the detective returned with another state police officer to ask a few follow-up questions. He told me that even though I had eventually changed the NH license to the name Ian Freeman (as I had always intended), that since I had gone through the legal name change prior to applying for the license under the name Ian Bernard, that he had a warrant for my arrest. He charged me with two class A misdemeanors, “PROHIBITIONS” and “UNSWORN FALSIFICATION” (click for charging docs, warrants, and more). I’m facing two years in jail over a paperwork snafu.
That’s what I get for legally changing my name, apparently. I finally go through their probate process, pay them, and get kidnapped for my efforts! I had no reason to believe that what I did was illegal, and certainly did not knowingly make false statements. I figured my old name was still good (and in point of fact , and the DMV bureaucrats gave me no reason to believe otherwise. Despite their allegations against me, no one was defrauded, and Ian Bernard is not a fake or fraudulent name – it is my given name!
Regardless, I was arrested and bailed and processed at NH State Police troop C in Keene and then released on PR. When I asked Andrew Player who the victim was in this case, he answered, “The People of New Hampshire”. Yet, when I asked him what the appropriate method to make these supposed victims whole, he didn’t really process that, and instead said something about how sentencing is up to the judge.
So let’s see, you have a paying customer, me, and the “public servants” reward me for my efforts to use their system that I’m always being begged to use, by kidnapping me, holding me for ransom, then threatening me with two years in a cage for filing paperwork in the wrong order?
Welcome to legal land, the land of confusion and danger. Stay tuned here to Free Keene for updates.