Justia New Hampshire Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Criminal Law
by
Defendant Corey Donovan appealed his conviction on a single felony count of possession of a controlled substance. He argued on appeal the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress evidence. “All of these circumstances objectively communicated to the defendant that his compliance with the officers’ requests was compelled.” The New Hampshire Supreme Court concluded defendant was seized, and that his seizure was unconstitutional, therefore the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress. Judgment was reversed and the matter remanded for further proceedings. View "New Hampshire v. Donovan" on Justia Law

by
In August 2019, the State of New Hampshire filed three juvenile delinquency petitions against Respondent in the family division, charging him with one count of pattern aggravated felonious sexual assault (AFSA), one count of felonious sexual assault, and one count of indecent exposure. The AFSA petition alleged that the acts comprising the pattern offense occurred on four specific dates: June 22, 2018; August 24, 2018; September 15, 2018; and May 27, 2019. When the petitions were filed, the alleged victim was six years old and Respondent was seventeen years old. Respondent turned eighteen in November 2019 and at the time of this appeal was twenty years old. After filing the petitions, the State, pursuant to RSA 169-B:24, petitioned to certify Respondent as an adult and transfer the case to superior court. This petition was denied and the New Hampshire Supreme Court accepted the State’s Rule 11 petition to determine whether the superior court erred in denying the State’s petition to certify Respondent as an adult. Finding the superior court so erred, the Supreme Court reversed and remanded. View "Petition of State of New Hampshire" on Justia Law

by
Defendant Jerry Newton appealed his convictions by jury on three counts of exploitation of an elderly, disabled, or impaired adult in violation of RSA 631:9, I(a) (2016) and RSA 631:10 (2016). Defendant became trustee of the Newton Family Trust and retained power of attorney over both the victim (defendant’s mother) and her husband (defendant’s father) in 2014 as a result of their failing health. The Trust created a fiduciary duty in the trustee and specified that the assets and money held by the Trust were to be used only for the benefit of the victim and her husband until their death. The victim’s husband died on December 21, 2015. By July 2017, the New Hampshire Attorney General had launched an investigation into allegations that defendant exploited the victim for large sums of money. Defendant argued the trial court erred when, at trial, it excluded out-of-court statements made by the defendant’s parents and a financial planner. He also appealed the trial court’s denial of his post-conviction motion for a new trial based upon ineffective assistance of counsel. The State cross-appealed, arguing that the trial court erred by ordering a hearing to review and reconsider the sentence. Finding no reversible error, the New Hampshire Supreme Court affirmed the trial court's orders. View "New Hampshire v. Newton" on Justia Law

by
Defendant Juan Monegro-Diaz was charged with driving with a suspended license. The State appealed a circuit court order granting defendant’s motion to suppress evidence obtained as a result of a warrantless seizure of defendant and his vehicle. The State argued the circuit court erred by ruling that the seizure violated Part I, Article 19 of the New Hampshire Constitution and the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments to the Federal Constitution. After review, the New Hampshire Supreme Court concluded that the circuit court properly ruled that the officer who stopped defendant’s vehicle lacked reasonable suspicion that defendant was driving with a suspended license. Accordingly, judgment was affirmed and the matter remanded for further proceedings. View "New Hampshire v. Monegro-Diaz" on Justia Law

by
Defendant Ernesto Rivera appealed a superior court order denying his motion to vacate his 2020 resentencing on certain of his 2015 convictions. On appeal, he argued the trial court impermissibly “increased” certain of his sentences and that it erred by rejecting his claim that his counsel in the 2020 resentencing procedure was ineffective. The New Hampshire Supreme Court determined defendant's due process rights were not violated and that the 2020 sentences were within the trial court’s sound discretion. However, the Court agreed with defendant that had defense counsel objected, and the 2015 sentences for the convictions from defendant’s second trial remained unchanged, the trial court properly could have considered those sentences when deciding whether the new sentences should have been consecutive or concurrent. The parties did not fully brief what showing of prejudice, if any, defendant had to make in this case beyond showing that the trial court should have sustained the objection, had it been made by defense counsel, to resentencing on the second trial convictions. The Supreme Court vacated the trial court’s ruling on the prejudice prong of the ineffective assistance of counsel test because it was premised upon the court’s erroneous ruling that had defense counsel objected to resentencing on the second trial convictions, the objection would have been properly overruled. The case was remanded for further proceedings. View "New Hampshire v. Rivera" on Justia Law

by
Defendant Robert Leroux was convicted after a bench trial on one misdemeanor count of driving while his license was suspended as a result of a prior driving while intoxicated conviction. He argued that the circuit court erred by: (1) denying his motion to dismiss based upon the insufficiency of the allegations in the complaint; and (2) allowing the State to introduce certified Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV) records for the purpose of establishing his prior DWI conviction. The New Hampshire Supreme Court concluded that, even if the circuit court committed plain error by denying defendant’s motion to dismiss, defendant did not demonstrate that the error was prejudicial. Furthermore, defendant failed to preserve his argument that the court erred by admitting the certified DMV records as evidence of his prior DWI conviction. Accordingly, judgment was affirmed. View "New Hampshire v. Leroux" on Justia Law

by
Defendant Richard Racette was convicted by jury on four pattern counts of aggravated felonious sexual assault (AFSA). He argued on appeal that the trial court erred by: (1) barring cross-examination about a witness’s prior statement; and (2) failing to dismiss one of the indictments for insufficient evidence. After review of the superior court record, the New Hampshire Supreme Court concluded the trial court erred by barring cross-examination about the witness’s prior statement, and that the error was not harmless beyond a reasonable doubt. Furthermore, the Court concluded the trial court committed plain error by failing to dismiss one of the indictments for insufficient evidence. Accordingly, judgment was reversed and the matter remanded for further proceedings. View "New Hampshire v. Racette" on Justia Law

by
Plaintiff Samuel Provenza, formerly employed as a police officer by defendant Town of Canaan (Town), appealed a superior court order: (1) denying his petition for declaratory judgment and “request for temporary and permanent injunctive and other relief”; and (2) granting the cross-claim of the intervenor, the Valley News. Provenza sought to bar public disclosure of an investigative report commissioned by the Town as a result of a motor vehicle stop in which he was involved while still employed by the Town as a police officer; the Valley News sought release of the report under RSA chapter 91-A, the Right-to-Know Law. See RSA ch. 91-A (2013 & Supp. 2021). Finding no reversible error, the New Hampshire Supreme Court affirmed. View "Provenza v. Town of Canaan" on Justia Law

by
Defendant Benjamin Mackenzie was convicted by jury on one count of distribution of a controlled drug — fentanyl — with death resulting. He argued on appeal the trial court erred when it: (1) admitted, as habit evidence under New Hampshire Rule of Evidence 406, testimony that the victim had previously purchased opioids from the defendant; and (2) admitted, as “intrinsic” to the charged crime, text messages between a cellphone alleged to belong to the defendant and other apparent drug customers. Finding no reversible error, the New Hampshire Supreme Court affirmed. View "New Hampshire v. Mackenzie" on Justia Law

by
Defendant Javon Brown was convicted by jury of misdemeanor domestic violence, for which he was sentenced to twelve months in the house of corrections and fined. Defendant appealed his conviction, arguing that the trial court erred by ruling that evidence of a phone call was admissible when the call was not authenticated as required by New Hampshire Rule of Evidence 901. Finding no reversible error, the New Hampshire Supreme Court affirmed. View "New Hampshire v. Brown" on Justia Law