As was reported earlier, video and audio devices have been banned from Keene superior and district courts unless media members beg for an exemption. Edwin Kelly, the head judge of the circuit courts, has now officially refused to comment on his order. I called the circuit court administration office at 603-271-6418 last week and left a message for his assistant, Linda J. Cammett, and then again this week I left another message. I never received a return call. Today I called again and Linda picked up the phone. That’s when she told me that Kelly will not comment on this matter. She referred me to the supreme court’s public spokesperson Laura Kiernan. Laura did talk to me about the issue. She explained that NH is SO open in comparison to the other states. I should be grateful for the opportunity to grovel in front of a robed man to get permission to have a camera in his court. It’s entirely OK for them to prohibit audio and video devices from the lobby and the rest of the premises, because it’s somehow “disruptive”. Laura can be reached at 603-271-2646.
Interestingly, the location of the administrative office of the circuit courts is a secret. They apparently don’t want the public to come to the office that they pay for with their tax dollars. All they give out publicly is a P.O. box and this number: 603-274-6418. Does anyone know where this office is physically located?
Also, here’s his alleged home address, phone number, and information about his home for anyone who might want to hold a vigil, courtesy of a helpful commenter here on the FK blog:
Edwin W Kelly
22 SUMMIT RD
Plymouth, NH 03264
Yesterday the case of State v Garret Ean was heard in regards to a $29.76 bicycle headlamp citation. While trial footage recorded by Free Keene videographers uploads, it’s worth making a note of the events before the trial, which resulted in one individual being temporarily banned from the courthouse for filming in the lobby. When I arrived just after 8:30am, I saw James of Shire TV standing outside of the front door and filming in. It was clear what had just occurred — he had been kicked out for filming. I’ve been in the same situation at Concord district court, where you will likely get ejected for recording outside of the courtroom. Sometimes, I am allowed through security with one camera but not another, and sometimes nothing is restricted.
On the inside, my videocamera was taken and replaced with a scruffy old property receipt, a number sharpie’d on it. I saw a slew of activists from Keene in the lobby speaking with bailiffs. Word was spreading that all cameras were being taken, even those with filled-out permission slips, until the judge authorized the forms. Myself planning to audio record the entire hearing, I had yet to fill out the blank media form which has three options: Still Camera, Video/Audio Camera, or Audio Recording. As my audio recorder and cell phone were not confiscated, I waited to fill out the copy in the courtroom.
Concord District Court head of security Peter Hamilton enjoying a pipe on break. Photo by Brian Blackden
I asked bailiffs why that today they had decided to seize all incoming videocameras. “The judge always authorizes recording, so why does everyone need to have their property confiscated?” The head of security, Peter Hamilton, appeared and stated that the judge who always grants approval of notices was out this particular day. He was possibly referring to judge Gerard Boyle, whom to my knowledge has not denied any press notifications placed before him. I have audio and video recorded others’ trials before both he and the sitting judge on this day, M. Kristin Spath, without hassle from either. This does not also include a lack of hassle from the bailiffs. My experience has been that having a filled out recording permission slip to present at the checkpoint does make one more likely to emerge on the other side with their camera unswiped. Hamilton cited rules handed down by Edwin Kelly as the basis for the restriction, Kelly being the very secretive administrative judge of New Hampshire district courts. (more…)