Harden Law Offices

104 Main Street, Lancaster, NH 03584 603.788.2080
15 Main Street, Littleton, NH 03561 603.444.2084
199 Heater Road, Lebanon, NH 03766 603.448.3737

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

State Marijuana Policy


VIDEO: It is everywhere except in NH State Trooper's Cruisers and Body Cam? Shame!

Image result for video
I have been practicing law for over 20 years.  I have exclusively handled criminal cases for almost 20 years.  In all those years and through those thousands of cases, video is still the exception not the rule. 

I was reading about Lane Lesko (the male that left Lake Umbagog) who was shot in Peterborough on Route 136.

It is always a tragedy when a young person dies. I am sorry for his family's loss.  I do not mean to minimize the tragedy, but I am troubled by a line in the WMUR  story that says the man's mother was "told that none of the officers involved were wearing body cameras and that the patrol cars with cameras were not in position to videotape the scene."  Mother of man killed by New Hampshire police wants answers

There is no reason to ever have police cruisers and officers involved in any stop or detention without video.  It is cheap, easy to use and protects all involved from false allegations.  In 2016 you should expect that everything you are doing in public is being recorded.  There are cameras in convenience stores, fast food restaurants, super markets, banks, stores and in virtually all cell phones.  My 5 year old expects that he is being videoed in every restaurant and points out the cameras and images.

Why do the NH State Police resist using video?  Are they hiding something?  It is time for NH State Police to add video equipment.

The fleet of NH State cruisers appears to be relatively new.  The cruisers seem to get replaced regularly.  These new cruisers also appear to have special police features for high speed pursuits, special handling and enhanced frames.  They need to be mandated to record and video stops, detentions and arrests.  There are no reasons against and many reasons to demand video recordings.

Simply put, there is no reason to allow NH State Police to stop, detain and arrest without any video records being created.  It is time to demand proof and force that evidence be preserved.  The mother of Lane Lesko wants answers and so should every citizen in NH.

I practice in a very rural, poor section of Northern NH.  I am proud to say that there are many towns in my area that use cruiser cameras and body cameras. The argument that it is too costly is wrong. These northern towns (Littleton, Haverhill, Berlin, Lancaster, Lebanon) are not as well-funded as the NH State police, yet they can afford video. In my experience, videos help reduce arguments about what was said, done or not done. The videos show the facts, reduce court time and result in pleas or cases being dropped. The videos help the honest officers and out the undesirable. The videos help the innocent go free and convict the guilty.

It is time for video to be mandated.

Image result for video

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Remain Silent

Friday, June 10, 2016

Canada: Rising Popularity Of Medical Cannabis Among Veterans Associated With Declining Opioid Use

 Image result for canada marijuana
According to the Globe and Mail Veteran's Affairs Canada has statistics that show opiate requests are down as cannabis requests have climbed.

It is interesting that opiate prescription requests are down while rising rates of cannabis are being seen in Canadian veterans.  The numbers show a decrease of 30 percent for bezodiazepines between 2012 and 2016.  Opiates decreased 17% during the same period.  Prescription cannabis has gone from 100 to over 1,700.

The data set is too small to establish cause and effect, but the trend may be one way to reduce the growing opiate problems in NH and the United States.

Canadian Study of veterans drug use.
Prior assessments from the United States report that incidences of opioid-related addiction <http://norml.org/news/2016/04/28/study-opioid-abuse-rates-lower-in-medical-cannabis-states> , abuse <http://norml.org/news/2015/07/16/study-medical-cannabis-access-associated-with-reduced-opioid-abuse> , andmortality <http://norml.org/news/2014/08/28/study-state-medical-marijuana-laws-associated-with-lower-rates-of-opiate-induced-fatalities>  are significantly lower in jurisdictions that permit medicinal cannabis access as compared to those states that do not.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Time to Mandate Video by Police


NH has just become national news based on the actions of a NH State Police Trooper who is still unnamed, Nashua Police and Massachusetts Police beating a 50 year old who appeared to have surrender. See the story here:

Washington Post

Fox News


ABC News

CBS News

News of police beating a citizen is the exception and most police are not thugs and brutes.  This type of case affects the entire system both good cops and bad.  There is a very simple way to stop this behavior, record every stop, arrest and interaction with police.

This brutal attack will result in a loss of trust and confidence by the public.  Sadly, it is also not an isolated incident, Rodney King's beating was captured by George Holliday back on March 3, 1991.  In over 25 years since Rodney King video went public video technology has become commonplace.  A quick search will reveal recorded police beatings and shootings.

The cost of videos is virtually non-existent yet soe police agencies refuse to record or elect not to record interactions with citizens.  The NH State Police have one of the largest budget items in the state and yet as an agency they do not endorse recording arrests, stops and citizen interactions. The State Police contend that they can't afford to spend money to record stops and arrest.  I contend that they can't afford not to record.  Take a look at the Governor's Executive Summary of FY 2015 highlighting the State Police budget:

A budget of $45 million dollars includes new cruisers, cyber tracking equipment and more but no video recording equipment.

Another practical way to look at this is the reality is that almost every officer has a cell phone capable of recording videos, for that matter so do most citizens.  Video recordings are ubiquitous.  There is no reason in 2016 that every citizen encounter can't be recorded. 

I have defended citizens accused of crimes for over 20 years and in my experience most police do a good job and try to do the right thing.  I can think of only one NH State Trooper who does use video technology and records all interactions with citizens.  In my experience this trooper that has a camera is also very likely the one that would not step over the line and is always highly professional.  There is no reason that the State Police have to not have video recordings of all contacts with citizens. 

Another interesting point is that northern NH is a poor area with small towns that struggle with expenses.  Yet there are some small town departments in Northern NH that actually require and routinely use body cameras and video cameras as common protocols and procedures:  Berlin, Lancaster, Haverhill, Littleton and Lebanon to name a few.  Examine the budgetary restriction of one of these town, Haverhill NH Police Department had 7 full time officer and in 2014 a total budget of $944,084 yet they use body cameras on each officer as well as video cameras on the cruiser. This is a commitment to gathering quality evidence and capturing real time statements.

If these small towns can manage to video record the police so can other towns and larger departments including the NH State Police.

The towns that readily provide video to citizens charged with crimes recognize many benefits.  The videos provide real time evidence of the events and often eliminate any issues about what was said or done.  In short they are generally great sources of evidence and help our justice system arrive at the truth.

In  my opinion the videos also cut down on the number of trials, issues as trials and in the long run save the towns money in terms of officer and court time.  The videos also reduce the risk of false allegations being made against police involving brutality, sexual assaults and theft.  In short videos help the good police and the good citizen.  The videos also will expose the bad police and the bad citizen.

Video recording of all police interactions should be mandated.  Banks, big box stores, retailers, gas stations, convenience stores, bars and restaurants all use video for loss prevention and other reasons.  In 2016 we expect to be recorded when we shop, bank or go to the corner store.  South Carolina became the first state to pass a law that mandates police use body cameras to record arrests.

We as Americans should demand transparency and clarity in our interactions with the police by requiring all arrests, detentions and police interrogations be recorded.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Tom Brady Suspension Decision Vacated

Appeal from a judgment of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York (Richard M. Berman, Judge). Following an investigation, the National Football League imposed a fourgame suspension on New England Patriots quarterback Tom  Brady.  The suspension was based on a finding that he participated  in a scheme to deflate footballs used during the 2015 American  Football Conference Championship Game to a pressure below the  permissible range.    Brady requested arbitration and League  Commissioner Roger Goodell, serving as arbitrator, entered an  award confirming the discipline.  The parties sought judicial review  and the district court vacated the award based upon its finding of  fundamental unfairness and lack of notice.    The League has  appealed.  

We hold that the Commissioner properly exercised his broad  discretion under the collective bargaining agreement and that his  procedural rulings were properly grounded in that agreement and  did not deprive Brady of fundamental fairness.    Accordingly, we  REVERSE the judgment of the district court and REMAND with  instructions to confirm the award.

NFL v. Tom Brady Complete Decision

Will the entire Second Circuit review?  Will the US Supreme Court intervene?  Either en banc or Supreme Court review are very rare.