NH Judge Kenneth McHugh Stifles Free Speech

From today's Nashua Telegraph in an article found HERE:

The gist of the case is this: A well-known mortgage industry watchdog site founded by computer scientist Aaron Krowne in 2007, ml-implode.com, posted a story about a New Hampshire company, The Mortgage Specialists Inc.

MSI is being investigated by banking officials regarding a number of alleged violations, including forging signatures, destroying documents and unfair or deceptive business practices.

The story included a chart that MSI had prepared to submit to state banking authorities. Later, a writer using a pseudonym left a comment on the site, accusing MSI’s president of fraud for signing borrower’s names.

MSI asked the site to take down the chart and the comment, which the mlimplode.com publisher, Implode-Explode Heavy Industries, did. But the publisher refused to promise not to repost the chart or divulge the identity of the person who leaked the chart or the person who posted the comment. MSI went to court.

The judge ruled against the publisher, prohibiting the site from reposting the chart and requiring that it turn over the identity of the source and the commenter.


The judge’s conclusion – that the “power of the press” is not sufficient cover for disseminating “unauthorized material” – would bode ill for consumer and government watchdog groups, for whistleblowers and for speech in general if the ruling were not overturned by the higher court, which both law and common sense would dictate those justices will do.

If this decision is upheld we will never see another Watergate as it will be illegal for anyone to leak information that would blow the whistle on such activities.

I guess the following will need an asterisk after it:

Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

* Except in cases in which one party objects claiming the material is not "authorised".

Likewise the NH Constitution:

[Art.] 22. [Free Speech; Liberty of the Press.] Free speech and liberty of the press are essential to the security of freedom in a state: They ought, therefore, to be inviolably preserved.

* With some limitations

There is more to this story then what the Telegraph reports.  Kenneth McHugh has ruffled feathers before.

In 2006 former Rep Dick Marple filed a "Bill of Address" attempting to have him removed from the bench.  It was reported at the time that such attempts to remove a judge had only been done 3 times in the past 70 years.  It has been used once since against Judge Patricia Coffey in 2008.

While I'm not sure if this offense will raise enough attention to get him removed from the bench I do hope that it at least raises enough attention to send a strong message to activist judges like this that violations of the Constitution will not be tolerated.