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Judge: Arresting Man For Criticizing Alton Selectmen Was 'Pure Censorship'

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SalFalko, Mentus Media
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Flickr Creative Commons

A judge says it was "pure censorship" when a man was arrested at an Alton selectmen’s meeting earlier this year for criticizing board members.

In his ruling, Judge James Carroll threw out the charge of disorderly conduct filed against Jeffrey Clay, and said the arrest was clearly an attempt to silence him.

"The state's actions...were content-based censorship, as the defendant was acting within the very rules promulgated by the board, as well within his Constitutional rights under the U.S. and N.H. constitutions," the judge wrote.

The town’s police chief arrested Clay at a meeting in February, after he told board members during the public comment period that they should resign.

A member of the board accused Clay of character assassination. Despite being asked to stop speaking, Clay continued, and the board’s chair asked the police chief to arrest him.

In his ruling, the judge pointed out the following speaker at the meeting praised the board and was allowed speak without interruption.