Marie Hill Case

General Forum for Danville Topics

Postby curt » Sun Apr 09, 2006 12:41 pm

note: Curt edited this on 6/25/11 to update the link to the article about Leo Beauchamp.
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AlfredTwo wrote:This one is a real mess.


It sure is a mess.

Of course, the town would not have been sued if nobody had been arrested, or if the charges were dropped before trial.

What we will never know is whether the town would have been sued, or if the plaintiff would have prevailed if it had been, absent the interference of the selectmen and the circumstances of the termination of Leo Beauchamp.

It appears from the jury form (see posting above), that the plaintiff could not have won simply because of a finding that the prosecution was without probable cause. There also had to be a separate finding that the prosecution was "malicious". Without the minutes from the selectmen's meetings, and without the testimony of Mike Asselin and Leo Beauchamp, one wonders if the jury would have come to that finding. Of course it sounds like a weak standard of proof, "more likely than not".

If this case had been prosecuted under normal circumstances, without involvement by the selectmen, and then the town had lost in court, the responsibility would rest squarely on the shoulders of our elected police chief, Wade Parsons. But, under these circumstances, the blame can not be assigned to him.

The relationship of the selectmen and other boards and officials is well defined by state laws and court precedents for the most part. There will not be accountability in town government as long as boards or officials try to make decisions that are not theirs to make.
Last edited by curt on Sat Jun 25, 2011 2:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby AlfredTwo » Sun Apr 09, 2006 1:11 pm

I'm confused a little here. From all the information you've posted it looks like the Selectmen tried to prevent the prosecution not to push for it. If that is the case then who made the decision to prosecute and why are the Selectmen for blame and not the people who made the decision to go forward with prosecution?
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Postby curt » Sun Apr 09, 2006 1:55 pm

AlfredTwo wrote:I'm confused a little here. From all the information you've posted it looks like the Selectmen tried to prevent the prosecution not to push for it. If that is the case then who made the decision to prosecute and why are the Selectmen for blame and not the people who made the decision to go forward with prosecution?


My point is that the Selectmen took sides and tried to derail the prosecution. They also terminated the prosecutor under circumstances that at least looked questionable. In so doing, they added to the evidence that was available to be used against the town in a civil suit. And one of the selectmen testified against the town, which would not have happened had he not involved himself and the board in the case.

It doesn't necessarly follow from the case being dismissed that it was improper to have brought it in the first place. That's 20-20 hindsight. It would be interesting to have a qualified NH chief of police, other than Wade, evaluate the evidence and render an opinion as to whether the prosecution was consistent with accepted standards.

It's quite possible that the case should not have been prosecuted, based on the evidence and accepted standards. But I don't think we can accept the outcome of either the criminal case or the civil case as proof positive that it should not have been prosecuted, under the circumstances. I would be more convinced if I were sure that the plaintiff did not benefit from public records that were generated as a result of the selectmen's intervention or direct testimony from a selectman who was involved at the time.

There are two sides to every story. The recent news accounts only reflected the plaintiff's side. Wade Parsons and Bob Moore acted in the best interests of the town when the verdict came out by not commenting on the facts of the case or the public assertions of the winning side, pending further consultation with the town attorneys and decisions as to whether and on what basis to appeal.

Now that they have consulted with our attorneys, the selectmen should talk to us about the costs and insurance coverage, funding, etc.

And selectmen's minutes are inherently biased in favor of the point of view of the selectmen of the day. It doesn't matter who is on the board or who records the minutes. It's their meeting, and they control all discussions before them. I speak from personal experience.
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Postby curt » Mon Apr 24, 2006 12:36 pm

I heard from a reliable source that the selectmen are trying to figure out how to pay the judgment. That doesn't necessarily mean that they have decided to pay, or that they won't appeal. I also heard that there is some discussion going on about whether the town is liable for the plaintiff's attorney fees.
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Postby curt » Fri May 05, 2006 9:24 pm

There will be discussion about how to pay the judgment at the selectmen's meeting on Monday, May 8.

I think this confirms that the town is on the hook for this, that it won't be covered by insurance.
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Postby curt » Mon May 08, 2006 11:38 pm

The selectmen met with Betsy Sanders, town treasurer, this evening. They have agreed to pay $141,000 to the plaintiff, to cover the damages plus legal expenses. They have to pay by May 31.

This is a bad time anyway for cash flow, because the last tax bills were in November, and the next one won't be until July. Along with ongoing expenses, there is a big payment due to Timberlane.

The selectmen and Betsy agreed that she should pursue getting a short term loan to tide the town over.

There is also the expense of the town's own lawyers in the case. But this is covered in the operating budget, and the lawyers can be paid when there is cash on hand.

It was in the paper the other day that Chester should have a finance director to keep their finances straight. They have had major problems. Betsy, who had a career in banking, does the job for $3,200.
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Postby curt » Sat May 13, 2006 8:55 pm

When the selectmen met on May 8, they made a point of not saying the dollar amount, so that people watching or TV or sitting in the audience would not know.

Yesterday I received the selectmen agenda for 5/15, both as an interested citizen and for posting on the town web site.

The only item on the agenda is "Approve TANs". I can't be the only person who wondered what is a TAN. It occurred to me as I was driving home, and I confirmed it with the treasurer, that TAN is an abbreviation for "Tax Anticipation Note", i.e. a loan to tide us over until tax payments come in over the summer.

Why does the town have to keep everything semi-secret with regard to this matter? It's all public information. And it's our money.
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Postby shawn_oneil » Tue May 23, 2006 12:09 am

Curt,
That is not true. You start by stating in a on May 8th with
curt wrote:The selectmen met with Betsy Sanders, town treasurer, this evening. They have agreed to pay $141,000 to the plaintiff, to cover the damages plus legal expenses. They have to pay by May 31.


I recall that Bob was heading the discussion with Betsy and mentioned the amount.

Now the following week you state:

curt wrote:When the selectmen met on May 8, they made a point of not saying the dollar amount, so that people watching or TV or sitting in the audience would not know.


That is not true!

I hope to bring that entire case to the on-line community with BOS support, or via RSA's. I read that entire case file during my first week as a BOS member, and I would like the rest of Danville to experience the same.

I can't say much more, but ........
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Postby curt » Tue May 23, 2006 12:38 am

I got the figure of $141,000 because I asked Betsy after the meeting.

You selectmen all had some papers in your hands with the amount. But the amount was not actually stated verbally. The actual statement was something like "we agreed to pay the amount shown here...."
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Postby shawn_oneil » Tue May 23, 2006 1:22 am

It was actually a spread sheet with the cash flow analysis to determine if we needed to take out a note for a short duration (month or 2). Bob was just walking Betsy thru the analysis. I think you read way too much into that. Me now being part of the "You Selectmen", and being semi-secret is way off base. You know me and I have always been for transparency when it come to gov't. That is why I think it is important to allow every town resident the ability to see the data (entire case log) that justifies the BOS decision. This would include our Town's legal opinions along the way, depositions, and others. Let you decide if justice was done, or the legal system failed.
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Postby curt » Tue May 23, 2006 6:52 am

I knew I'd get a rise out of you as I wrote "you selectmen" but my fingers kept going. :-)

I agree that you are in favor of disclosing more information. And I'm sure it is frustrating that it has not yet been appropriate for town officials to give their side of the story in this case. Once the check is cut, that will change.

That said, it is part of the culture of town government (probably not just this one) to play things close to the chest. I think there is a general reluctance to state clearly names and dollar amounts as business like this is done.
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Postby curt » Sat Jun 03, 2006 5:23 pm

shawn_oneil wrote:You know me and I have always been for transparency when it come to gov't. That is why I think it is important to allow every town resident the ability to see the data (entire case log) that justifies the BOS decision. This would include our Town's legal opinions along the way, depositions, and others. Let you decide if justice was done, or the legal system failed.
Shawn


My understanding is that the check was cut and mailed so as to arrive at the plaintiff's lawyers by 5/31. So this case is closed. Let's get the information scanned and up on some web site, either ToD or SoD.

There is one thing I would like to know, among others. A member of the plaintiff's family told me recently that the town could have settled for a fraction of what it cost us by going to court. I'd like to know the date(s) and the amount(s), which selectmen made the decision(s), and why. Some dates and amounts were mentioned over the phone, but I would prefer to see them in writing before quoting them.

It's easy to say with the benefit of hindsight that the town should have settled out of court. I would just like to know the facts and the bases for the decisions, then we can form our own opinions.
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Marie Hill Case - final orders

Postby curt » Sat Jun 25, 2011 11:49 am

I just posted HERE a pdf document scanned from copies that Marie HIll gave me.

The document contains:
-- Order on Defendant's (town's) motion to set aside the jury verdict
-- Plaintiff's (Marie HIll's) motion for award of reasonable attorney fees
-- Order on Plaintiff's taxation of costs ("taxation" is not in the context of the town collecting money from its taxpayers)

Since so much time has passed since this case happened, I think it would be worth everyone's time to read this SoD thread from the beginning before reading this document, which was at the tail end of the process.
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Re: Marie Hill Case

Postby curt » Sun Jun 26, 2011 11:45 pm

Here is the smoking gun (excerpt of the document posted yesterday)

While the Court will not go through all of the evidence which pointed towards
something far more serious than mere incompetence practiced by the Defendant police
department, it will point out that there was clear evidence to suggest that one or more
members of the Danville Police Department falsified evidence to assure itself of successful
prosecution of the Plaintiff. The so-called victim of the criminal trespassing charge wrote
out a statement of events shortly after the incident occurred. That statement was then
given to the police and it never left police custody. The victim was asked whether or not
she made any alterations to the statement after she initially gave it to the police. She
reported that she did not. Yet when produced by the Defendant in Court the statement
contained new information written in different colored ink which if believed would tend to
show that the victim's account of an earlier incident was much more benign than what she
initially represented it to be to the police.
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Re: Marie Hill Case

Postby SBinRockrimmon » Mon Jun 27, 2011 7:04 am

I find this to be quite disturbing of any PD. I certainly hope the people responsible are no longer members of the Danville PD.

While the Court will not go through all of the evidence which pointed towards
something far more serious than mere incompetence practiced by the Defendant police
department, it will point out that there was clear evidence to suggest that one or more
members of the Danville Police Department falsified evidence to assure itself of successful
prosecution of the Plaintiff.



Sadly these types of things happen more often than anyone wishes to believe (I'm no longer referring to Danville). I still believe there are more good police officers than there are bad. Until more of the good cops decide to cross that "thin blue line" and get rid of the bad ones these types of things will continue to happen. Far too many officers will protect each other, then the unions protect them, and if something does occur the taxpayers get to foot the legal expenses.
I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them. - Thomas Jefferson

To compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves and abhors, is sinful and tyrannical. - Thomas Jefferson

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