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'Robin Hood' parking meter group claims court victory over Keene officials

By MEGHAN PIERCE
Union Leader Correspondent

December 27. 2016 8:35PM
Accused of harassing Keene parking meter officers, activists known as "Robin Hood of Keene," from left, James Cleaveland, Ian Freeman, Kate Ager, Graham Colson and Garrett Ean, stand outside Cheshire County Superior Court in this 2014 file photo. (Union Leader file photo)



KEENE — Cheshire County Superior Court’s denial of the city’s request for a buffer between city parking enforcers and activists feeding parking meters has been upheld by the New Hampshire Supreme Court.

The city was appealing to the New Hampshire Supreme Court a lower court denial of an injunction that would establish a buffer zone between city parking enforcers and activists filling empty parking meters.

In a Dec. 22 decision from the state Supreme Court on Thursday the appeal of a superior court’s denial of the injunctive relief was denied.

Saving motorists parked downtown from a city parking ticket in the nick of time is called “Robin Hooding” by the liberty activists, but the act often comes along with the harassment of city employees, the city has argued in both courts.

The city filed a suit in May 2013 against six citizens who are part of a group that has dubbed itself “Robin Hood of Keene,” asking the court to prohibit residents Kate Ager, Ian Bernard (also known as Ian Freeman), James Cleaveland, Graham Colson, Garrett Ean and Peter Eyre from coming within 50 feet of the city’s three parking enforcement officers “during the performance of their employment duties for the City.”

This was the second time the matter has come before the Supreme Court. The city initially argued for the 50-foot buffer, but later said it was up to the court and could be as slim as a 10-foot buffer.

The last time that it was bounced back to the superior court in Keene, it resulted in a Nov. 2015 decision, in which Cheshire County Superior Court Judge John Kissinger, citing activists’ freedom of speech rights, denied for a second time the city’s request for a buffer zone between Keene’s parking enforcement officers and the Robin Hooder liberty activists.

After the decision, Keene mayor Kendall Lane said the city had already spent $78,000 on legal fees on the different Robin Hood court cases since 2013, but would appeal the Nov. 20, 2015, denial.

Private attorney Charles Bauer has been representing the city. He took on this latest appeal pro-bono.

Bauer did not respond immediately on Tuesday for a request for comment, but has said previously that the denial was being appealed because the decision will have a lasting impact on Keene city employees.

A city administrator said Tuesday that city officials had not yet seen the decision so could not yet comment on it or whether or not it would be appealed to the federal court.

“It’s definitely a victory,” Freeman said Tuesday.

Free speech attorney Jon Meyer has been representing the liberty activists pro-bono since the being, Freeman said. “Hopefully they will leave this alone and won’t appeal this to federal court ’cause it’s been a pretty arduous process,” Freeman said of city officials on Tuesday. “I think the taxpayers are also hoping that they don’t keep it going ’cause they are the ones ultimately footing the bill for this.”

mpierce@newstote.com


Courts Keene


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