CopBlock co-founder appeals his wiretapping conviction
MANCHESTER - CopBlock.org co-founder Adam Mueller, who was convicted of felony wiretapping in connection with recorded calls to school and police officials about the arrest of a student at Manchester High School West in 2011, has appealed to the New Hampshire Supreme Court.
Mueller posted portions of the conversation as part of a video on CopBlock.org.
Mueller represented himself at an Aug. 13 trial in Hillsborough County Superior Court North before Judge Kenneth Brown.
The jury convicted him of three counts of felony wiretapping for recording calls Oct. 4, 2011, with Manchester police Capt. Jonathan Hopkins, West High School Principal MaryEllen McGorry, and Denise Michael, a school secretary, all without their consent.
The conversations were about an Oct. 3, 2011, arrest of a West High School student in the cafeteria. The arrest by the school resource officer was videotaped by another student, who had met Mueller and Copblock.org co-founder Peter Eyre a few weeks before.
The video showed the officer grabbing the student, pushing him face down onto a cafeteria table and handcuffing him.
Ten days after his August trial, he mailed a motion to the court, seeking to have the verdict set aside or reversed, the charges dismissed with prejudice, the conviction vacated and his release ordered, or, alternatively, a new trial ordered and the remaining sentence stayed. He argued he had been confined in jail, without access to legal materials, and that is why he hadn't filed the motion sooner.
The prosecution objected to the motion and the judge denied it, saying it was not filed within the required seven days and that Mueller himself had requested immediate sentencing after the verdict was returned, and Mueller is an "experienced pro se litigator and knows the rules."
Mueller's attorney, Brandon Ross, said once the Supreme Court receives the trial transcript, which is due by Dec. 30, it will issue a scheduling order.
Ross said the court may order a mid-March deadline for briefs from both sides. An oral argument was requested, but that is up to the court, he said.
Ross said the main argument is that Mueller was convicted of felony wiretapping, but the way the statute is written, if he was a party to the recording, he could be convicted of only a B misdemeanor, which carries just a fine. A felony carries jail time, although Mueller served only a few months.
"Every state has its own rules (about recordings)," said Ross, adding that New Hampshire's wiretap law "is written in a terribly confusing way."?In an email, Ross said the question is what the statute was trying to forbid by the felony-level offense. "From our perspective, it was actually trying to stop nefarious third parties from surreptitiously recording phone calls they have no business hearing. Someone recording a call which he's a part of? Not as serious."
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Dale Vincent may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org..