NH Supreme Court Vindicates Keene's Robin Hooders!
In a nearly complete victory for Robin Hood of Keene, the NH supreme court has affirmed nearly all of the superior court's decisions against the people calling themselves the "City of Keene" in the city's libelous assault on the heroic activists who have rescued thousands of motorists from parking tickets in downtown Keene in the last couple of years.
The victory is nearly complete, with one exception. The supremes ruled that the lower court needed to consider the city's request for injunction separately from the claims of "tortuous interference" and "conspiracy". Therefore, the supremes remanded only that detail back to superior court judge John C Kissinger to decide. If you've been reading Free Keene for a while, you may recall that the city's original suit in 2013 asked for a in injunction of a 50ft radius "buffer zone" around each parking enforcer that would preclude the named Robin Hooders from being in that zone. Eventually, they reduced their request to 30ft, then 10-15ft. The buffer zone concept has previously been ruled unconstitutional in other courts and likely will be again when it goes back to Cheshire superior court.
The rest of the court's twelve-page opinion backs up the lower court's dismissal of the city's outrageous case. The claims of "tortuous interference" with the city's "business" of screwing over people shopping downtown and the claim of "conspiracy" were shut down on a free-speech basis:
However, we need not decide whether a viable tortious interference claim can exist under the circumstances present in this case because we agree with the trial court that holding the respondents liable for tortious interference based upon their alleged activities would infringe upon the respondents’ right to free speech under the First Amendment...we also conclude that the First Amendment bars the City from pursuing its claim that the respondents are liable for conspiring to commit the very same tort.
The city's lies about the behavior of Robin Hooders (they claimed, without evidence, we were "harassing, threatening, and intimidating" the parking enforcers) had no effect on the court's decision to dismiss. The court's judges know that telling government bureaucrats how you feel their job is wrong is fully within free speech protections, even if the bureaucrats don't want to hear it. Further, the court opinion backed up the Robin Hooders' non-verbal actions as protected free speech:
The City nonetheless asserts that specific aspects of the respondents’ conduct — “following closely, chasing, running after, approaching quickly from behind, lurking outside bathrooms, yelling loudly, and filming from close proximity” — is not protected by the First Amendment... The respondents counter that “[e]ven those activities that did not involve speech [are] expressive conduct entitled to First Amendment protection,” and, therefore, are insulated from tort liability. They assert that, “absent acts of significant violence,” the First Amendment protects their non-verbal acts from tort liability. We agree with the respondents.
Free speech attorney Jon Meyer, who took this case pro-bono says he'll be filing a motion to reconsider the remanded portion of the case and is ultimately prepared to go back to superior court and crush this frivolous, harassing case for good. Of course the city people don't have to spend their own personal money to go to court - they get to spend taxpayer dollars on this nonsense. So, the only thing that might stop them appealing this further up to federal courts is that the longer they drag it out, the longer taxpayers in Keene will be angry at them about it. Time will tell. Meanwhile, Robin Hooders continue to rescue innocent motorists in the streets of Keene. Stay tuned here to Free Keene for any developments.
Feel free to get in touch with me if you have questions or would like to interview an activist,