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Attorney Gordon to represent Roots Cafe in dispute over Obama poster placement

New Hampshire Union Leader

March 11. 2018 8:49PM

HOOKSETT — New Hampshire lawyer Steven Gordon has agreed to represent Roots Cafe, the Hooksett eatery that has displayed a 2008 Obama campaign poster in a Hooksett Republican enclave — Robie’s Country Store.

Gordon — who won last year’s $274 million defamation lawsuit against mortgage broker Michael Gill — said last week he is representing Roots and has written a letter on the owner’s behalf to the members of the Robie’s Country Store Historic Preservation Corp.

The trustees of the Robie’s Preservation Corp. have told Josh and Amber Enright to remove the Obama poster from the walls of Robie’s, where the Enrights rent space and operate Roots Cafe. The trustees have said that their lease with Roots gives them the final say over what goes on the walls.

“I don’t agree with their interpretation of the contract,” said Gordon, who is co-founder of Shaheen Gordon, one of the largest law firms in the state. His co-founder and partner, William Shaheen, is the husband of Democratic U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen.

A Democrat, Gordon is taking the case pro bono, meaning he’s not charging for his services. He would not say if he contacted the Enrights and volunteered his services.

Gordon said he doesn’t expect the dispute will end up in court. He has written a letter to the Robie’s Preservation Trust and suggested both sides meet, he said.

Roots Cafe owner Amber Enright posed last month at Robie's in Hooksett with the Obama "Hope" poster in the location where she originally hung it. (DAVID LANE/UNION LEADER)

Todd Rainier, the Hooksett town clerk who has become the spokesman for the Robie’s trust, confirmed that the trust has received a letter from Gordon. He said the board will meet and decide what to do about the letter, and he did not want to speak on behalf of the trust until that takes place.

He said the trust recently switched lawyers and he could not recall the name of its new lawyer.

Ranier said he doesn’t think any Republican lawyers have volunteered to work on behalf of the trust. 

The Union Leader sent an email to four prominent Republican lawyers — Charles Douglas, Richard Lehmann, Ovide Lamontagne and Bradford Cook — inquiring if they were going to volunteer their services to the trust.

Only Cook responded. “No. And as a good friend of Amber and her mother, I am firmly on her side in letting her exercise her First Amendment rights,” Cook wrote.

In previous articles, Amber Enright said she asked around for an Obama poster after she got tired of all the Republican posters on the walls.

When operated by Lloyd Robie, the store was a popular campaign spot, mostly for Republican presidential candidates. Posters or framed photographs of John McCain, Barry Goldwater, Ronald Reagan and two generations of Romneys are on the walls of the main dining area.

There are fewer photos or posters of Democrats.

The Enrights have said the trust has been pestering them for months about the Obama poster, calling him un-American. Recently, Robie’s Preservation officials formally demanded the poster come down from a wall where it was hanging.

Two weeks ago, they placed it on an easel.

A petition that reads “We want Hope” has several pages of signatures.

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