Harden Law Offices

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

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Lancaster District Court - Not Guilty

Lancaster District Division heard the evidence on December 20, 2011 where Judge King took under advisement a charge of operation on open water contrary to RSA 215-C:7.  Judge King issued his decision with a clerk’s notice of December 22, 2011 finding Mr. M not guilty.  Judge King found that the State had failed to prove that the area of water on which the defendant’s snowmobile traveled was “free of ice and snow” at the time of operation. 

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Does Marijuana make you a better driver?

  I wanted to share this POPSCI article:

 Medical Marijuana Laws Shown to Reduce Traffic Fatalities

Well, that settles that

A U.S. Government Medical Crop at the University of Mississippi
Any attempt to segue into this post with a clever lead is likely to fall flat, so in the interest of skipping the cliches: a new study out of University of Colorado Denver and Montana State University shows that legalizing medical marijuana sales in various states over the past two decades has led to a nearly 10 percent drop in traffic fatalities. What the study really shows--by way of causal chain--is a five percent drop in beer sales, and that has in turn led to fewer fatalities on the road. Put that in your pipe and smoke it (couldn’t resist just one).
This is the kind of study that’s going to be attacked from all sides, by those with agendas and those who will simply point out that establishing that causal link between legalized pot and the decrease in alcohol sales (and in turn the reduced traffic deaths) is difficult with all the variables out there. But it is an interesting study for no other reason than it actually attempts to measure the effects of legalizing pot by linking it to some kind of hard data rather than some hard-to-quantify metric.
That, of course, is traffic data, of which we have plenty. Traffic data is bountiful and generally pretty good because incidents on the road--particularly those that involve injury or fatality--very rarely go unnoticed by authorities, who are required to dutifully record them in the public record. So Daniel Rees of UC Denver and D. Mark Anderson of MSU started looking at the traffic data both nationwide and more particularly in the 13 states that legalized marijuana for medical use between 1990 and 2009. They found several connections and trends that seemingly stem from the legalization laws, but most notably they found evidence that alcohol consumption by 20- to 29-year-olds decreased, and that translated into fewer deaths on the road. Previous simulator studies have shown that drinkers tend to drive more aggressively and take more risks, while marijuana users tilt toward risk-averse behaviors. Notably, they also found that in the states that legalized marijuana there was no evidence of an uptick in use among minors, which is a major concern for the medical marijuana opposition.
To be fair, establishing these kinds of links is still difficult as variable abound and the data is sometimes difficult to trust. Common sense (experience?) tells us that kids smoking pot generally don’t go around telling adults about it, including those conducting academic research. So establishing whether or not more or fewer kids are getting high is more or less an exercise in guesswork. And Rees and Anderson point out that while alcohol is often consumed in public places marijuana is consumed privately, often in the home. So making marijuana use a publicly acceptable activity for all people--not just those with a medical necessity--might diminish the reduction in traffic fatalities as more stoney drivers get behind the wheel.
But things being what they are, medical marijuana laws appear to be trending toward safer roadways, and that’s all this study purports to demonstrate. Place whatever value on that you will. PopSci would like to point out that this post does not constitute an opinion either for or against the legalization of medical marijuana, and Rees’s and Anderson’s findings are just, like, their opinions, man.

Lancaster District Court

Case Conclusion Date: December 20, 2011, Lancaster District Court.
Practice Area: DUI / DWI
Outcome: Not guilty by judge
Description: DWI with a blood test of .13. No FSTs. Client arrested due to multiple lay witnesses claiming impaired driving including four officers. Each witness is cross examined to expose contradictions with the others.  Blood test suppressed  due to failure to establish a chain of custody.  Issues involving the blood test were addressed as well.  The judge found no proof of impairment and entered a not guilty finding.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Peterson Gets a New Trial

This case is a highly political and publicized one where there were numerous issues involving the investigation. 
I have met Attorney Rudolf personally and know how hard he worked on this trial and has continued to work.  He came to NH and was a dynamic speaker at a seminar hosted by the NH Association of Criminal Defense lawyer last year. 
I congratulate him on his persistence and dedication to see that justice is done.  The hard work, time and effort expended by Attorney Rudolf and his staff is a testament to his level of professionalism and commitment.
It is rewarding to know that the work we do as criminal defense attorneys can ultimately result in justice even after a verdict.  Thank you for you example of how to be a trial lawyer and congratulations again.


Friday, December 16, 2011

Coos County Superior Court, December 15, 2011

State v. Vincent F., Coos County Superior Court
Final pretrial was set for December 15, 2011 with jury selection set for January 5, 2012 on a second degree assault.  We had notified the State of a defense of others and were prepared to go to trial.  After reviewing the evidence the State nolle prossed or dropped the charges against Mr. F. on December 13, 2011.  This means that Mr. F. did not have to go to trial and prove he acted in defense of another and that he has no criminal conviction as a result.

Conway District Court , December 13, 2011

State v. Timothy C., 3rd Circuit- District Division Conway

Trial was scheduled for December 13, 2011 at 1 PM.  Mr. C. was charged with possession a controlled drug.  The case was called and the State sought a continuance which the Court denied.  The case was dismissed for lack of prosecution as the State had failed to have witnesses available for court.  Mr. C is a graduate student who will be finishing his degree next spring.  A criminal conviction for possessing cannabis would have been devastating for his job search and future.  We were prepared for trial and had a very solid defense.  Thankfully the State failed to bring a material witness and the matter was dismissed summarily.  Mr. C. is now able to finish his schooling and proceed into the workforce without a criminal conviction.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

NY Times: Admissible Evidence or a Backdoor Ploy? Justices Ask

The defense bar has been pleasantly surprised by the strength of Justice Scalia’s opinions protecting the 6th Amendment and the right to confrontation.  Justice Scalia remains the strongest voice in support of the 6th Amendment on the high court, defending the right to confrontation in Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts, 129 S.Ct. 2527 (2009), which held that it was a violation of the right of confrontation for a prosecutor to submit a chemical drug test report without the testimony of the person who performed the test. This overturned years of the Supreme Court permitting expert reports without the analyst present (Roberts)Melendez Diaz also clearly held that the analyst’s reports were unconstitutional without the testimony of the person to enable cross examination.  Justice Scalia delivered the opinion of the Court in which Stevens, Souter, Thomas, and Ginsburg, JJ., joined. Justice Thomas filed a concurring opinion. Justice Kennedy filed a dissenting opinion, in which Chief Justice Roberts and Breyer and Alito, JJ., joined.
The other case referenced in the article is Bullcoming v. New Mexico which also dealt with a Confrontation Clause case decided on June 23, 2011.  In Bullcoming, the Supreme Court considered the issue whether a defendant's 6th Amendment rights extend to a non-testifying laboratory analyst whose supervisor testifies as to test results that the analyst transcribed from a machine. In a 5-4 decision authored by Justice Ginsburg, in which Justices Scalia, Sotamayor and Kagan and Thomas in part concurred for the majority, while Justices Kennedy, Roberts, Breyer and Alito dissented.
It is interesting to note that the divide in the court ignores political appointments of the justices and is very stark as it relates to the 6th Amendment.  The Williams  case seems to be setting up the same 5-4 decision which will hopefully will protect a defendant’s right to make the government prove its case with live testimony capable of being cross examined.  These cases along with Crawford and Strickland  have over ruled the exceptions to the hearsay rule that were common for years under Roberts.  Hopefully the Supreme Court will continue to protect cross examination so that it may remain "the greatest legal engine ever invented for the discovery of truth." This conclusion is supported by comparing the historical purposes of confrontation with the alleged dangers in admitting an out-of-court statement. Confrontation: (1) insures that the witness will give his statements under oath - thus impressing him with the seriousness of the matter and guarding against the lie by the possibility of a penalty for perjury; (2) forces the witness to submit to cross-examination, the "greatest legal engine ever invented for the discovery of truth"; (3) permits the jury that is to decide the defendant's fate to observe the demeanor of the witness in making his statement, thus aiding the jury in assessing his credibility. 5 Wigmore 1367.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

ALS Hearing results from today at NH DMV

State v. John M., ALS suspension hearing for a test over .08 was dismissed after the Lisbon police failed to introduce evidence of a breath test pursuant to RSA 265-A:5.  In short the Lisbon police arrested John M. for DWI and Aggravated DWI and alleged at the DMV that he took a breath test which revealed a result greater than .08 BRAC, however, they failed to introduce a valid test, certification of the test or the officer’s qualifications to administer a test.  Attorney Harden was able to have the case dismissed and John M. has his NH driver’s license restored to operate today.

State Admits Error In Perjury Case

This is a link to an article written by Khela McGann in the November 23rd edition of The Littleton Courier that covers one of my recent cases.

The American justice system is the best in the world. The system sometimes makes mistakes and can cause people undue hardships both physically and emotionally.  However, I truly believe that our system works, sometimes as in this case it takes time and persistence but eventually it will work. 
I had the honor of representing Robert Koczur and defending him in a jury trial in Grafton County Superior Court.   The jury made a finding against him, and despite my best efforts I was unable to convince the trial court to overturn that conviction.  My client had confidence in me and we continued to pursue justice.  In Mr. Koczur’s case that justice came from an appeal to the NH Supreme Court where we were able to have the conviction overturned and an acquittal was entered.  The Attorney General’s Office confessed error and acknowledged that there was insufficient evidence to proceed.  This unusual step by the State meant the end of the criminal case and that Mr. Koczur was confirmed not guilty.
Criminal cases are often very hard on a person’s health and welfare.   The stress and aggravation endeared can be difficult.  I pride myself on trying to explain the process to client’s and helping them through a tough period in their lives.


Harden Law Offices has a NEW location!

Harden Law Offices is pleased to announce the opening of the Lebanon, NH office at 85 Mechanic Street.  Attorney Harden will now be able to better serve clients in lower Grafton county. He may be reached at 448-3737.  Attorney Harden practices only DWI and Criminal Defense law.  Call today for a free initial consultation!