A group of protestors outside of Sununu's home were found not guilty of violating a local ordinance
A group of protestors fined in late 2020 for picketing outside of Gov. Chris Sununu’s personal residence in Newfields have been found not guilty.
In a December 23 court order, Judge Polly Hall wrote prosecutors had failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that five defendants “engaged in picketing before or about” Sununu’s home.
The protests began in late 2020 over COVID-19 restrictions including the ongoing state of emergency and imposition of a statewide mask mandate.
In response, the town of Newfields, where Sununu’s brother Michael Sununu serves on the Board of Selectmen, then passed an ordinance prohibiting picketing aimed at a residence. It came with a $100 fine.
Shortly after the ordinance went into effect, a group of protesters were cited for violating the ordinance. During their trial, the protestors argued they remained in motion throughout the evening and therefore hadn’t targeted Sununu’s residence.
Seth Hipple, an attorney who represented the group, also challenged the constitutionality of the ordinance, though Judge Hall didn’t rule on the larger issue, calling it moot in light of the not guilty verdict.
In an interview Wednesday, Hipple said he is considering another challenge to the ordinance.
“If we are going to maintain our rights and liberties, it's important that whenever a government or locality oversteps their bounds, that they be put back into their constitutional proper place,” he said.
Among those cited for violating the ordinance was a NH Journal reporter who was covering the rally.
Sununu canceled his public inauguration ceremony around the time of the protests, citing personal safety concerns.