Charlestown prosecutor running up charges against police provocateur

When a police officer works by using his immense powers to make an unmerited arrest,

When a police officer works by using his immense powers to make an unmerited arrest, it is the career of a prosecutor to — at the quite minimum — use her have discretion. Contact it righting a completely wrong.

Regrettably, Charlestown prosecutor Jessica Hodgman both lacks the fortitude to go versus the town’s law enforcement chief, Patrick Connors, or she condones his actions during an come across with YouTuber Marc Manchon in Oct.

I’m not confident which would be extra troubling.

Hodgman didn’t return my cellular phone phone calls past 7 days, so I did not get the opportunity to request if she’d watched the movie of Connors shedding his amazing with Manchon in the police station foyer. Connors is seen informing the 35-year-outdated Manchon, of Suncook, that he’s less than arrest and orders him to “turn all around and place your arms powering your back again.” The main qualified prospects Manchon away in handcuffs behind shut doorways.

I’ve sampled plenty of of Manchon’s films on his YouTube channel — Press NH Now — to know he can be offensive and combative. He’s also an unapologetic publicity hound. But boorish conduct is not a criminal offense, as substantially as we may would like it is at times.

Manchon, with video clip digital camera in hand, stopped by the law enforcement station on Oct. 27 to select up public records that he’d asked for under the state’s suitable-to-know law. Connors was significantly not happy as his department was flooded with phone calls from Manchon’s YouTube livestream viewers, even as Manchon — maybe facetiously — asserted he was certainly not telling his viewers to contact the Charlestown station. So Connors made use of his arrest powers to silence a critic. Manchon was freed later in the day after paying out a $40 bail commissioner’s charge.

Hodgman — at Connors’ request — billed Manchon with “obstructing federal government administration.”

That was a new just one for me, but evidently it is severe. Manchon faces up to a calendar year in jail and a utmost fine of $2,000, if convicted of the Class A misdemeanor.

He also was charged with disorderly carry out: Manchon was causing a “breach of peace and community inconvenience by disrupting the orderly conduct of enterprise in the Charlestown Police Office,” in accordance to the Class B misdemeanor grievance signed by Connors that I located in court documents.

Connors declined to discuss the case when I contacted him very last week.

Manchon has pleaded not responsible. In a cell phone interview, he instructed me that he’s been arrested a fifty percent-dozen periods in current a long time on identical rates in other towns but has nevertheless to be convicted.

“All I’m doing is recording with a digicam,” he said. “I struggle all of these conditions.”

As Charlestown’s prosecutor, Hodgman could have put a cease to the chief’s officious enforcement months back.

“In New Hampshire, prosecutors have unreviewable authority to discontinue a demand if they want to,” Norwich attorney George Ostler informed me. “They have full manage.”

(Ostler, who has been working towards criminal defense legislation in Vermont and New Hampshire for 38 yrs, isn’t concerned in the Charlestown scenario.)

From my viewpoint, Hodgman has not only unsuccessful to invoke her prosecutorial discretion, she’s manufactured matters even worse by engaging in a follow regarded as overcharging.

By bringing many expenses and threatening jail time, prosecutors often hope to coerce a defendant into pleading responsible to a lesser criminal offense — in Manchon’s case, disorderly carry out — that does not call for incarceration.

“It’s a leverage scenario,” explained Ostler, making it obvious that he wasn’t referring particularly to the Charlestown situation, with which he was unfamiliar. “This is a problem in the criminal justice process. It comes about all the time.”

From Ostler’s practical experience, the “vast the vast majority of costs brought are at the higher degree of what the evidence supports,” he claimed.

I really do not know Hodgman, so possibly I’m being as well rough on her. But I know her actions exemplify a structural dilemma with New Hampshire’s legal justice procedure.

Neighborhood prosecutors aren’t elected. Generally they’re handpicked by a community’s police division, and their office is located inside the police station.

In some cities, the prosecutor lacks a law degree and has not passed the condition bar examination.

At minimum, Hodgman has that significantly going for her. She’s a personal legal professional with an business in Claremont who practices “divorce and relatives law, juvenile regulation, domestic violence, personal bankruptcy, wills and estate preparing, and civil litigation,” in accordance to her firm’s website.

She functions section-time as city prosecutor in Charlestown, earning $28,000 a year. It’s a good aspect gig. She does not solution to voters and handles only misdemeanor instances, which seldom draw public scrutiny — until eventually now.

As I wrote in November, Manchon considers himself a Initial Amendment crusader and govt watchdog who drives about New Hampshire with a camera, hoping to capture cops and public staff members acting less than specialist. His livestream videos sometimes get 20,000 sights or additional from people today across the region.

In Charlestown, Manchon hit the YouTube jackpot.

Along with capturing Connors’ robust-arm techniques in the law enforcement station foyer, Manchon managed a few times afterwards to get underneath the skin of Selectboard Chairman Jeff Lessels at the city offices.

Lessels is seen on video clip shoving Manchon out of the public developing and grabbing a piece of Manchon’s online video products, which Charlestown police later on returned.

On Dec. 22, pursuing a state police investigation, Lessels pleaded not guilty to easy assault, a Course B misdemeanor that carries no jail time.

Previous 7 days, I crossed paths with Lessels outdoors the town offices while he was on a pipe-smoking split. He politely declined to explore his case.

Later, I known as James Shepard, a non-public attorney who is prosecuting the scenario on behalf of the New Hampshire Section of Safety. I did not hear again. I was hoping Shepard would say he’s dropping the cost. From what I observed on the online video, Lessels behaved like an oaf, but his steps didn’t rise to the level of criminality.

The point that Lessels and Manchon ended up charged at all is the genuine crime in Charlestown.

Jim Kenyon can be achieved at [email protected]