I am writing to the people of New Hampshire to get the record straight regarding the civil suit brought against the state of New Hampshire, more specifically the Department of Safety, by now-retired detective James Conrad. I believe an article should be titled “Judge vs. Jury.”
The unfortunate incident that ultimately led to this lawsuit occurred on the afternoon of Nov. 28, 2007, when Conrad was unlawfully detained at state police headquarters for several hours and against his will simply because he requested advise from legal counsel during an internal interview, a right given to each and every citizen of the United States when unfavorable accusations are made against that person.
Subsequently there have been three distinct and separate hearings/trials which have all unanimously been in favor of Conrad, the last of which was a civil suit heard in Merrimack County Superior Court. On May 18, 2012, after hearing nine days of testimony the jury came back with a verdict awarding Conrad $1.5 million for the improper and unlawful actions of the Department of Safety.
On July 2, 2012, Judge Larry Smukler, overturned the verdict merely on his option in a direct verdict, which is normally done prior to a jury hearing a case, not after.
Here’s the question I have for citizens and potential future jurors:Should a judge have the power to overturn a unanimous jury verdict solely because he doesn’t agree? I say no. It undermines the American judicial and jury system. We have a jury system to be fair. Twelve individuals deliberate and make a unanimous verdict, not one person. A judge is an overseer to advise on law, not his opinion. So I ask the people of the state: Is this the judicial system you want?
I’m sure you have all heard or even used the term, “It’s politics.” I think that we have been too kind and believe that it is nothing but government corruption at its finest. It is unfortunate that 12 jurors gave up two weeks of their lives, received nearly nothing for their time and for what? For a judge to basically say “I really don’t care what you think.”
STACEY M. HARRISON