NORTH HAVERHILL, NH – Around 7am this morning I jumped into one of two cars leaving Keene for day two of Bob Constantine’s trial (see this post for a rough write-up of what went down yesterday). Two hours later I sat in a courtroom with 14 others supporting Bob from all over the ‘shire and at least one from nearby Vermont. Also present were 10 paid via theft. Worth noting – the order banning cell phones and cameras had been rescinded since those with badges had testified the day prior.
Before the jury was led into the room the man in the black robe inquired of Bob and Melissa Pierce, the “district attorney,” (let Melissa know what you think about her attempts to cage a peaceful man: 603.787.6968) if they had any objections to the jury instructions he planned to communicate after closing statements, including the details of the felony manufacturing marijuana charge that threatened Bob with seven years in a cage. Neither party did, though Bob asked about the status of a motion he had submitted the day prior – to also inform the jury of a less serious possession charge, which the man in the robe agreed to include later that afternoon. (I think Bob wanted to give the jury another option that wouldn’t result in as serious a penalty for himself.)
Since Pierce had rested her case it was Bob’s turn to call his witnesses. Yet his first witness – Larry Bohanen (sp?) – was nowhere to be found. Bob requested that the court wait a few more minutes and if Bohanen didn’t show, that deputies be dispatched to bring him to court. The man in the black robe noted that since it was only 9:20 – ten minutes before “the magic time at which he’s ordered to appear” (which sounded like it was lifted from Adventures in Legal Land) there would be a recess.
A short time later Bohanen appeared in a squad car. Apparently he’d been at the nearby police department (getting coached?). Bob sought to establish the character of his neighbor was (apparently he’d been caged for an offense that actually had a victim, though Pierce’s objections kept this from reaching the juror’s ears). In fact, thanks to Pierce’s constant objections, which seemed to be working in tandem with the man in a black robe, Bob was unable to learn if and when Bohanen spoke to those with badges or any information that he may have shared with them.
Bob was successful in getting Bohanen to admit that he’d been on his property, though only when Bob himself was around. And Bohanen denied ever having taking pictures on Bob’s property and sharing them with those who wear badges. Bohanen was very evasive, replying most often with “I don’t remember” or “I plead the fifth” (referencing text on a piece of paper that some believe is magic). Yet even the man in the robe noted that the he couldn’t “pled the fifth” since it wasn’t applicable since answering Bob’s question “didn’t expose him to criminal liability.” Thanks to Bohanen’s flip-flops Bob asked him “Are you aware of the penalty for perjury?” which only caused him to squirm even more, at one point even asking to speak to a lawyer.
Pierce’s follow-up of Bohanen was nothing but distraction. She essentially brought up every piece of evidence (which, except for some seeds in a pill container, was never shown outside it’s evidence packaging) and asked the snitch if they belonged to him. Hopefully the jury wasn’t impressed because I wasn’t. When Bohanen was dismissed, the bulk of us in the audience stood up and turned around – communicating our appreciation of his actions.
Just after 1pm we reconvened. Since the jury and man in the black robe weren’t yet in the room Ian Freeman and I took the opportunity to address Pierce. We peppered her with what I hope were thought-provoking questions all aimed at getting her to think about the implications of her (violent) actions against a peaceful person.
This went on for five to ten minutes yet the only time she even acknowledged our presence was to state that I could call her by her correct name (I had inadvertently been calling her “Michelle Fields”). She also made a reference to us “harassing” her, which caused a man wearing a badge to order us to “sit down.” I backed up a few feet, sat in the closest chair, and continued trying to engage her in conversation. Maybe not tonight, but someday, I hope she’ll realize that she’s personally responsible for her actions.
Bob’s next witness, Merle Kenyon, was the “chief” for the Grafton Police Department. As with every witness throughout the proceeding, Bob greeted him in a friendly, personal manner and, like all other witness, Kenyon responded in kind. Thanks to Bob’s questioning, Kenyon effectively said that Bob was a stand-up guy with whom he’d never had any negative issues (Bob even volunteers to mow some city property).
In fact after his September 2009 trespass on Bob’s land and seizure of his property, Kenyon noted that he had transported Bob to the police station in the front of his cruiser without handcuffs. And, just before Pierce blurted out another “Objection!” we learned that when doing inventory of Bob’s hunting rifles in his kitchen, Kenyon trusted Bob enough to hand him his rifle to read the serial number for his report, as Kenyon was unable to do so due to the small font.
Really sounds like Bob is dangerous person that should be locked up for seven years, huh?
Kenyon was dismissed. Bob was going to call a third witness – a “chief” of a town that abutted Grafton but since he wasn’t present Bob rested.
Throughout the day there were so many “counsel approach the bench” orders from the man in the black robe or “may I approach the bench?” requests from Pierce that the time allocated to the little huddles between the parties probably equaled or exceed that used for the actual testimony.
During one such mini-conference I asked the two men with “Grafton County Sheriff’s Department” patches on their sleeves standing guard near the doorway if they thought the proceeding was a good use of law enforcement resources. The man closest smiled briefly, as if affirming that he too thought it wasn’t ideal, but neither he nor his colleague vocalized their thoughts. I followed-up and asked if they thought Bob deserved to be in a cage for seven years for allegedly growing a plant. Again, no response.
The man in the robe began his instructions to the jury – noting that it’s about the “quality not the quantity” of evidence, which in my mind bodes well for Bob. He also told the jury to consider whether witnesses were “candid and worthy of belief” (both attributes that definitely applied to Bob) no matter if the person was “ordinary citizen or a police officer” as if different standards apply to individuals based on their place of employment.
The man in the robe claimed that a crime was “any breaking of the law that prescribes punishment.” Really? Hadn’t Bob the day prior gotten all four of Pierce’s witnesses to admit that they had broken at least one law? Why was only he being threatened with a cage?
The man in the robe said the “state” (dirt within an arbitrary political boundary) must prove:
1. manufacture of the controlled substance
2. that the controlled substance was marijuana
3. that Bob knew the controlled substance was marijuana
4. that the quantity was over one ounce
5. that Bob acted knowingly
Per the agreed-to motion submitted by Bob, the man in the robe added that if a “not guilty” verdict was returned for the above, that the jury was to consider the less serious charge of possession of the controlled substance marijuana.
Bob gave his closing statement. He was very personal and persuasive, including such statements as “You own your mind. You should own your body. Exercise your right of conscience” He touched on nullification and recounted how abolitionists had assisted runaway slaves, noting that he personally would “break that law.” After Bob correctly noted that “The state has failed to present any victim.” Piece objected. After what was probably a 10-minute mini-conference in front of the man in a black robe Bob walked back and informed the jury that his last statement was to be forgotten, that it was stricken from the record. Weak.
Twice Bob noted that no matter how the jurors voted, that “nothing can happen to you” – attempting to erase any fears they may have had for not bowing to the Pierce, the man in the black robe, and all their legalese. He concluded “There’s no victim. I’m a good person. . . my conscience is pretty strong. . . I’m asking you to vote for your conscience and return a not guilty verdict.” Most def.
Pierce pounced up, eager to spread more misinformation. Over the next five minutes she told the jury no less than three times that it was their “civic duty” to find on the side of the “law.” Sovereign Curtis laughed at her mantra, causing the man in the robe to order “No speaking!”
Pierce told the jury “don’t be bullied. That’s what this is, it’s intimidation” referring to those of us present to support Bob, as we were visible throughout the proceeding the past couple of days. Ian, whom I was sitting next to, replied “Pathetic.” I couldn’t agree more.
To counter Bob’s reference to runaway slaves Pierce proceeded to tell the jury that in the south whites who had murdered blacks were not held accountable thanks to nullification – that white juries had sided based on skin color rather than on what’s right. She claimed, “as americans” we have a lot of freedoms but “it’s when you begin to act” that it’s not good – inferring that Bob’s actions – allegedly doing some gardening on his property far-removed from anyone – had somehow harmed another person. Then, mimicking Bob, she tried to get personal with the jury. She noted that she loved her freedom and cited her ability to wear gray slacks and love the rain. I can’t make this stuff up.
We were ordered to clear the court.
Ademo, Ian and I waited upstairs for Pierce and her unnamed lackey. A few minutes later they emerged and during their dash to the safety of their office, we asked her why she was free to wear gray slacks but Bob wasn’t free to put a plant in his yard; if she thought it was fair likening Bob to a murderer; and who was really doing the bullying in the present scenario – we who were asking questions and trying to have a conversation or her and her colleagues who were threatening a peaceful man with years in a cage. Her only response was to tell us to get out of her way, though I doubt anyone present or watching the video (stay tuned!) would say we impeded her movement.
The jury deliberated. Ian and Ademo held signs supporting Bob outside their window. Robin Mozingo got into the act with her recently-created sign that said something like “Freedom is the ability to wear gray slacks!” The blinds were soon closed. We waited in the lobby and conversed amongst ourselves and with Bob. Two hours passed. Then the jury left out a side door. A few of us ran out the front, grabbed signs, and waved to them as they departed. I saw a couple return waves and a head nod. There is hope!
It doesn’t sound like any cars from Keene will be heading up there tomorrow for what will hopefully be a “not guilty” verdict but there will still be many capable feet on the ground in support of Bob.
Stay tuned to the Civil Disobedience Evolution Fund Facebook page for updates.
Call Melissa Pierce: 603.787.6968 and let her know how you feel about her working to put Bob in a cage.
And be on the lookout for more video from Bob’s trial from Jason Talley, who manned one of the approved cameras in the courtroom throughout the proceeding, did some interviews of those present and already has copied footage shot by Ademo.