A couple of months ago, Free Keene blogger Rich Paul was arrested for “violation of probation”. Despite having failed a drug test and having admitted using cannabis, probation officer Jason Smith had chosen not to arrest Rich, per his testimony at the hearing below. Smith said he was arrested because a local hater snitched on Rich, claiming he’d violated probation by possessing a weapon.
Rich says he was using a camera monopod to take a defensive stance against two employees of Pedraza’s/Pour House who were threatening, and subsequently attacking, people who were chalking in Central Square. In point of fact, one Pour House employee who did a lot of threatening, is seen in the video of the incident, taking the camera Rich had put down and smashing it, among other criminal acts.
In a full violation of probation hearing at Cheshire superior court this week, Rich was jailed over the cannabis violations, but vindicated of the most serious charges: weapons & rioting. The video and testimony made it clear his actions were justified. He was legitimately using the monopod to prepare to defend himself and others from attack. As I understand it, in NH even felons are allowed to defend themselves against attack, and use anything in the vicinity in order to do so.
Regarding the cannabis violations, probation officer Smith testified that probation was pointless for Rich, as he is going to continue using cannabis for medical purposes. There are 500 people on probation, and only four agents, according to Smith. Judge John C Kissinger took Smith’s recommendation and agreed to remove Rich’s probation after he serves six months in the Keene Spiritual Retreat! (Factoring in his time served prior to the hearing and presuming he meets the NH “good time” requirements, he’ll be out in about three months, in time to speak at Keenevention 2014!)
Rich’s testimony is passionate and principled. This is a great court video:
The probation system is awful and is designed to violate the participants, over and over, keeping them in an unending cycle of destruction of their lives. Being in jail for a shorter time is far preferable to three years of drug tests, reporting, and home searches. Something I learned about the probation system is that in a probation hearing, there are no rules of evidence! Plus, the conviction requirement is “preponderance of the evidence”, which is a lower burden of proof than an actual criminal trial, which is “beyond a reasonable doubt”.
There was no doubt that Rich held that monopod to defend himself and others. If anyone was acting in a criminal manner that night in the park, it was the people from Pour House/Pedraza’s (and local thug James Michael Philips) who committed criminal threatening, assault, disorderly conduct, theft, destruction of evidence, and destruction of property – all caught on video. Thus far, no arrests have been made in the incident, besides Rich Paul. Who are the police protecting?