Ian Freeman originally shared this article at FreeKeene.com.
November 2011 – I am pulled over for speeding on the way back from some activism in Concord with a car full of activists. Trooper Kelly Healy asks my passengers for ID – I remind her that as passengers they are in no way obligated to show her ID. As I reach for my car registration she asks about my driver’s license and why there was an NH address on a FL license. I decline to answer her probing questions, instead asking her questions of my own, like, “Am I being detained?”. Healy returns to her car and later comes back with a speeding ticket, to which I ask her if she really wants to go to court, and she claims that is my choice. I remind her that it was her choice to aggress against me and tell her I’ll see her in court.
Or, maybe not. Trooper Healy never showed up to a court hearing scheduled for this week and the case was dismissed on my motion to dismiss for failure to appear on the part of the complaining party. I “won”! Here’s video from the pullover and court hearing:
I put quotes around the win because it took many hours of my time, for which I will not be compensated. Allow me to detail the process:
As soon as I got home I immediately sent a Shire Peace Ticket to the “Department of Safety” in the envelope they provided with the ticket. A couple of months later I heard from a helpful KPD officer that my driving “privileges” had been suspended. I called the DOS to see what is going on and discover that they sent a threat to the wrong address telling me they were going to suspend my “privilege” to drive if I did not respond to their ticket within 30 days. Since I never received their threat and could not have replied, they suspended me. The bureaucrat with which I was speaking refused to waive the reinstatement fee of over $100, despite it being their mistake. As you can see from my peace ticket, I clearly indicate the correct address and instruct them that all correspondence should be sent there. I escalated the call to a manager and she was actually friendly and once I faxed the peace ticket in she waived the fee and reinstated my driving “privileges”. I told her that the peace ticket WAS my response and that if they want a trial, that’s fine, as per the peace ticket’s text.
Months later, I heard from the court with a pre-trial hearing date. Since pre-trial hearings are usually just an opportunity for them to offer a plea deal, I motioned the court to bypass that hearing, as I’d rather not waste a morning driving to Henniker just to tell them, “no thanks”, since I don’t take plea deals. The court approved the motion. I also sent in a request for discovery, as all defendants should do, in order to collect the state’s evidence against me.
It was several months before I finally received notice of my trial date – in January 2013 – over a year past the original ticketing! I immediately sent in a motion to dismiss for lack of a speedy trial. Now, I know this tactic does not work, as I have tried it before, but I figured why not? It makes the prosecutor have to respond, and in this case the prosecutor was the trooper herself. They are not trained attorneys, and her response was pretty weak. Basically she claims the court should deny my motion because they scheduled the case as soon as they could. The court decided to schedule a hearing on the motion to dismiss for speedy trial. That was set for this past Tuesday.
Me, James Cleaveland, and Darryl Perry all headed out Tuesday morning to Hillsborough district court (it was originally Henniker, but the case has taken so long, that Henniker district court actually shut down in that timeframe and now their cases are handled in Hillsborough). The court was packed with innocent, peaceful people who were facing the usual charges of driving without government papers, alcohol, and cannabis. After about two dozen cases where the supermajority took the plea deal, my case was called. This was over three hours after when I was supposed to have had the hearing – meaning trooper Healy had PLENTY of time to come to court. Her associate, trooper Kevin Noonan had assured me that she would be there. I immediately motioned for dismissal due to failure to appear on the part of the complaining party, and judge Cyr granted the motion – case dismissed!
Now, if only more people would refuse to take the plea, the state would be crippled and their courts overloaded. They’d have to stop their revenue collecting and focus more on actual crimes. Ahh, to dream.