Robin Hood Case – the Latest Legal Arguments from Both Sides

Wanted Robin HoodThe lawsuit brought originally in 2013 by the “City of Keene” vs several Robin Hooders (people who feed expired meters to save folks from parking tickets) continues onward, with both sides having filed legal memorandums with the Cheshire superior court after a second round of “evidentiary hearings”.

First up, heroic pro-bono free speech attorney Jon Meyer filed this 12-page legal memorandum. Meyer points out that the city’s demand for an injunction against the Robin Hooders would clearly be unconstitutional as it’s directed at specific people and speech. He cites various case law for the court to review, and points out the obvious discrimination and hypocrisy:

If the Defendants had been engaging in demonstrations for the purpose of expressing their support of PEO’s, or were making comments supportive of their job performance, this proceeding would never have been initiated. The videos and other testimony show that other private citizens have emphatically expressed their support for the PEO’s, and their opposition to the Robin Hooders, in some cases physically. No injunction is sought against any of them because they do not convey the Robin Hood message.

Meyer further invalidates the claims of the city that somehow Robin Hooding is a breach of the peace, as claimed by the city’s suit:

James Cleaveland, Attorney Jon Meyer, Ian Freeman

James Cleaveland, Attorney Jon Meyer, Ian Freeman

There is a criminal statute, RSA 644, which addresses and prohibits virtually every type of breach of peace. The fact that no breach of peace, disorderly conduct, or assault prosecution has been brought against any of the Robin Hood Defendants for Robin Hooding is compelling evidence that this asserted interest is not significantly implicated by their activities.

The only episodes in the record that amounted to anything approaching a disturbance of the peace were several incidents in which Robin Hooders were physically assaulted by third parties. Several instances over several years of hundreds if not thousands of Robin Hooding demonstrations hardly amounts to a substantial problem. 2 And even if it were substantial, it would violate the First Amendment to restrict the Defendants’ expression activity because of illegal assaults against them by third parties. This is a classic example of a “heckler’s veto” which is antithetical to the First Amendment because it puts speech, particularly unpopular speech at risk, and, in effect, rewards mob or individual violence.

Meyer points out that just because the parking enforcers may be uncomfortable with some of what has been said to them on the streets does not give the city the right to restrict freedom of speech:

The right to communicate to public employees has special protection in New Hampshire because the New Hampshire Constitution, Part 1, Art. 8, elevates government accountability to a
constitutional right. The fact that that accountability can be stressful to the agents of government does not dilute the decision of the constitutional framers to elevate its importance over legislative enactment.

Sheriff of Nottingham

It’s not about the revenue, they say…

Of course, Meyer’s whole 12-page memorandum is excellent, and you should give it a full read if interested.

The City of Keene’s expensive private attorneys then filed a 17-page legal memo of their own where they trot out the usual lies about us “harassing and intimidating” the poor, scared parking enforcers just trying to do their jobs, but then back down even further from their originally requested 50-foot floating constitution-free zones they wanted the court to create around their parking enforcers. Originally in 2013 it was 50 feet, then went to 30 feet, then to 10-15 feet, then when they went to the NH Supreme Court it had become “we’ll take whatever you can give us”.

Now, it’s gone from a floating buffer zone to a ten-foot restriction only if requested by the parking enforcers in each instance! Further, they’ve even tried to carve out exceptions allowing five feet in case the Robin Hooders need to pass by the enforcers. Plus their newly proposed injunctions would only apply to two Robin Hooders (me and Garret) and anyone “acting in concert” with us (which would be impossible to prove about any other Robin Hooders). The city’s attorneys are desperate to get some injunction from the court – any kind of injunction.

John C. Kissinger Jr.

Superior Court Judge John C. Kissinger Jr.

Their proposed injunctions in the document they claim would not interfere with Robin Hooding’s core actions, but in a six-page response to their memo, attorney Meyer points out that though the city has backed way down from their original demands, their proposed restrictions are still unconstitutional and further, unenforceable:

“Solution One” is also constitutionally unprecedented in giving the persons against whom the demonstration is being directed discretion to enforce a spatial separation. The second proposal raises the virtually insoluble problem of trying to determine whether or not a Defendant is within 10 feet of a PEO while also being within 15 feet of the parking meter, metered parking space or crosswalk. As demonstrated at the hearing, measurement of distances without equipment is subjective, and estimates vary widely from witness to witness…The proposed relief requested by the City, beyond its constitutional shortcomings, would raise a series of practical concerns and disputes that would likely set off a new round of hearings without significantly addressing the complaints voiced by the PEOs. It demonstrates that there is no relief possible which would be constitutionally, practically enforceable and narrowly tailored to significant government interests.

Stay tuned to Free Keene for the decision, yet to be issued, from Cheshire superior court judge John C. Kissinger. Will he grant the city’s seriously-watered-down request for injunction or toss their case again, like he did the first time around?

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  1. That the city of Keene is wasting so much money on this action should be of concern to all the taxpayers who’s money is being gifted to their legal counsel.

  2. I believe a buffer zone will be placed by the judge. The Keene citizens have watched they freekeeners harass the meter readers to no end. They think they are doing a good thing but they aren’t. When parking kiosks come into play, how are freekeeners going to deal with that? As in the past people have confronted these freekeeners about harassing meter maids, I predict the citizens of Keene will take some action, in their own way, against the freekeeners.

  3. If by action you mean violent prohibition, then you are no better than the city charging money to park on tax payer funded streets. The city will lose. In fact they already have. The bill for suing a group of citizens has already reached the $250k mark. In the other hand, what is so bad about demanding answers from your public servants? They all seem as though they are of higher class than we are because they work for…”The Government”. They should bow down and worship us as we are masters to the slave.

  4. theres no robinhhooders anymore so its REALLY wastful

  5. James Cleaveland is back on the streets now, David. It ain’t over.

  6. Considering taxpayer dollars squandered on this “case”, the “city of Keene” could have declared Free Parking city -wide for whatever dollar equivalent number of days that went to pay private attorneys. An impartial accounting could then compare/contrast revenue generated by increased commerce vs. average parking fees and fines over the same period. The citizen wins either way: If government funds from commerce generated revenue exceeds parking fees, lose the meters (and the cost of PEOs) as unnecessary and counter-productive. If fines exceed commerce generated revenue, lose the meters (and the cost of the PEOs) and allow voluntary commerce to expand. Cutting city spending would be an added benefit.

  7. Burn The Obedient – Sorry I disagree with you. It isn’t 1st amendment rights to follow someone nonstop harassing them with name calling, and degrading remarks. It is one of the most childish things I have ever seen supposed adults do. The parking downtown will never change. It will always be a payed parking system. If these freekeeners want to continue puting money in the meter, go ahead, It still pays the bills and that money goes to the city no matter how you look at it. I believe a buffer zone will be established giving the meter reader some power over the freekeeners and peace of mind

    I still believe parking kiosks are on the horizon. There will still be a need for meter readers, and there will never be a need for freekeeners who cannot act their age,

  8. What could possibly be more degrading than taking a job robbing people because of parking? I wonder how these people look in the mirror every night.

  9. Ragnar danneskjold – The real questions are, What could be more degrading than freekeeners harassing women meter readers. I wonder how freekeeners sleep at night.

  10. @RunningWolfKenpo (JumpingJerk)

    Purpose of Robin Hooding is to fill meters and prevent tickets.

  11. Retired Engineer No, the purpose of Robin Hooding is to harass people into changing something that was never broke in the first place.

  12. You see, Retired Engineer, Jacks doesn’t believe that public servants stealing public property for the purposes of establishing a parking business at taxpayer expense is a problem worth addressing. Jacks only complains about businesses when it’s the taxpayers trying to earn a living – like Uber drivers.

  13. “Stealing public property ” Draccc pay the 25 cents to maybe a dollar of meter time on your Buick so you don’t get a bigger fine and BTW if your stupid enough and you leave your car their, they city will tow it, you would have to now pay a bigger fine to get your car back you dumbass, they didn’t “steal” it, you where stupid enough to leave your property, on public property. Stop whining!

  14. Renting parking spaces on property that doesn’t belong to you is stealing, Bsizzle, no matter how you look at it.

    Diverting law enforcement resources to enforce payment on parking spaces on property that doesn’t belong to you is stealing, Bsizzle, no matter how you look at it.

    Diverting municipal court resources and/or impounding vehicles for the purposes of extorting payment of fines for parking on spaces on property that doesn’t belong to you is stealing, Bsizzle, no matter how you look at it.

    It is immoral for public servants to be making use of public property and public employees for their own personal entrepreneurial ventures. If public servants wish to start a parking business, then they should resign from their positions, purchase their own property with their own money, and pay for their own maintenance costs and employees just like the rest of us are expected to. That would be the moral thing to do.

  15. Nope your wrong draccc, if anyone took you car from your property, it would be stealing. So why don’t you just keep your car at home and hopefully no one will steal it. Wow, you are constipated with delusional thinking. You should let it out.

  16. No Bsizzle. There is a difference. Bureaucrats don’t own public property. They are payed by tax confiscation to manage it, not use it for entrepreneurial ventures like the renting of parking spaces. Parking services are not a legitimate use of government, especially when such services can (and are) easily be provided by private entrepreneurs. When bureaucrats hijack public property for the purposes of operating a business and divert law enforcement resources to defend it, they are stealing. Just because they do this under the auspices of government decree doesn’t make that act any less villainous.

  17. You also seem to be a tad confused over what I’m repudiating here, Bsizzle. It’s not that I’m in opposition to the idea of paying for parking use, I only object to the idea that government should be one of the organizations providing that service.

  18. Where does draccc come up with this stuff? Your wording is so pompous, entitled, and one sided, that I think your better of moving back to Romania. Don’t like it here, MOVE!

  19. Wait for it, wait for it….

  20. On the contrary, Bsizzle. I do like it here. It’s the one-sided reactionary twaddle that you’re inclined to contribute that I don’t like. If you’re truly eager for things to change, then maybe you should start working on how you portray yourself to others instead of just proclaiming your outrage every time someone points out what a feeble-minded twit you seem to be.

  21. Feeble minded twit?My twaddle you don’t like. DON’T RESPOND TO IT. I sense a lot of frustration and anger in your post. You should calm it down a little bit, knowing that you could have a stroke at your age. Isn’t that right, you old libertarian bag of bones? Draccc.

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