Friday, July 17, 2020

Belknap County Attorney's Office Gag Order Request Backfires, New Prosecutor Assigned by Attorney General

    The gag order request that turned this case in a whole new direction and involved the ACLU coming to my defense has now been completely withdrawn by an entirely new attorney from another county who was recently assigned by the Attorney General.    

     "Withdrawn" is one of those fancy words lawyers often use to avoid accountability for breaking the rules. Watch any legal drama on television, and you'll hear the word over and over again. Usually that protects the offender from any accountability at all, but not in this scenario.

    You see, what really happened here is not being discussed at all. I have never seen a quicker substitution with any less explanation. Even in civil cases we are always told exactly why a particular attorney was passing the case along to a new lawyer. Here all we get is Belknap County Attorney Andrew Livernois telling the Laconia Daily Sun that it was about a "conflict of interest:"

    Whatever the true reason is for Livernois stepping down and the Attorney General's office taking the whole county off the case, Livernois did not make the move himself to withdraw the gag order. Instead, the Deputy Grafton County Attorney Tara J. Heater did the deed for him. Regardless, the motion was filed, and Cormier put his signature on it while Livernois put his stamp of approval on it with his comments to the Laconia Daily Sun. This will result in a sanctions motion against Livernois and Keith Cormier I will bring before Judge O'Neil very soon.

   I am disappointed by the idea that this withdrawal means I can't celebrate what would have been my greatest legal victory to date. It also deprives me of what would have been a tremendous opportunity to work with the two ACLU lawyers who were set to appear at the July 21st hearing on the gag order motion. Yet, I can't help but feel a certain sense of accomplishment. Don't get me wrong, I am not particularly proud of having to watch a man destroy himself because of my direct actions to cause that chain of events. Still, I told Livernois exactly what to expect and what I would do to prove my case and my point. I did what I promised and more. So, I do feel positive about this development.

     No matter how proficient an attorney Tara Heater may be, she will begin her defense of the state's case in a very difficult conundrum. She will have to defend the very motion she just withdrew and the attorneys who betrayed their public duty and abused their office by filing it in the first place.

     It's no wonder Attorney Heater already offered to reduce the case down to two misdemeanor charges for possession. I refused that deal, and I will proceed to trial knowing the facts are on my side. I hope in the long run she sees the the bigger picture of the multiple mistakes made in the rush to prosecute and the consistent lies told to push this case. If she does, she will agree the best thing to do is drop this toxic case altogether. Hanging on to the idea of getting a conviction will only send her down the same road Livernois went down that led to a career-changing dead end.

     The sad reality that is starting to set in for me is that this case is a microcosm of the hopelessly dysfunctional justice system in this county, in this state, and across the entire country. There is no accountability, and fellow officers of the law always seem to protect their brethren rather than report their misdeeds. There is just so much corruption that gets swept under the rug in this environment. To the legal professionals and police officers who perpetuate this sense of broken justice, the ends always justify even the most crooked of means.

     Few prosecutors ever see any penalties for acting recklessly or breaking rules to gain convictions. I've watched enough episodes of Netflix's "The Innocence Files" to know that. It's not a problem that's unique to New Hampshire. Attorney oversight is an issue in even the biggest of cities:

    We just recently saw the completion of a government takeover of another county attorney's office here in New Hampshire:

    Maybe it's time for the AG to undergo the same oversight process with Belknap County.

    One former assistant attorney general reported more than three years ago that this state was suffering from a crisis of piss poor government lawyering:

    That warning was never adequately heeded.

   As my own attorney I can take the steps a public defender never would risk in this scenario. I can seek to hold these public officials responsible for their part in this madness. I'm not part of the club. I won't lose any membership privileges for bucking the system.

  Please stay tuned to our site. Over the next few weeks there will be some major developments coming down the pipeline. The Attorney Discipline Committee is still looking over my grievance filing. A full panel will decide whether or not it will proceed to docketing. When a final decision is made I will be posting all the correspondence between myself and the committee's general counsel.

     I will also be filing a detailed sanctions motion next week. I will share that here when I file it. I sincerely hope lessons are learned in this situation and attitudes change. This kind of fight is never won when you are only in it for personal self-interest. I'm going this far because I want to make sure this kind of ordeal never happens to anyone again.