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NH's top court rules trial can proceed for ex-parole officer

New Hampshire Union Leader

June 07. 2018 9:02PM

The New Hampshire Supreme Court has ruled that a parole officer is not immune from criminal charges just because he answered his boss’ questions about firing his weapon at a car driven by a probationer he was checking on.

The defendant, David Burris, claimed that his rights against self-incrimination were violated when the Strafford County Attorney indicted him on three counts of felony reckless conduct stemming from the Dec. 1, 2015, shooting.

Burris, who now works as a corporal at the New Hampshire State Prison, had agreed to give a statement about the shooting to Corrections Department officials who were investigating the shooting from a job-related standpoint.

Burris signed a lengthy proviso that said he was answering the questions in order to keep his job, but he was not relinquishing his constitutional rights against self-incrimination.

Prosecutors later indicted Burris. Although the Corrections Department provided prosecutors with the Burris personnel investigation, it blacked out his statement.

A trial was put on hold until the Supreme Court decided Burris’ appeal. The Supreme Court unanimously ruled the case can proceed. But prosecutors cannot use Burris’ statements against him.

“If the compelled testimony cannot be put to any use whatsoever by the state in a criminal prosecution against the defendant, his privilege against self-incrimination is not infringed,” wrote Chief Justice Robert Lynn.

The full opinion can be viewed below:

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