Seacoast Newspapers v. N.H. Dep't of Safety, Doc. No. 217-2010-CV-183 (Merrimack Super. Ct., June 11, 2010) (McNamara, J.)

Pages: 1 2


The State of New Hampshire


Seacoast Newspapers, Inc.


State of New Hampshire, Department of Safety

NO. 10-C-183


Petitioner seeks a copy of the police report relating to an accident involving a Seabrook, N.H. police cruiser on February 5, 2009. Petitioner bases its claim on the right to know law, RSA 91-A. The State objects, alleging that the so called Driver Privacy Act, RSA 260:14, specifically prohibits the release of the records. The State has filed a post hearing memorandum, stating that Petitioner has obtained a copy of the report sought, and attaching a newspaper article summarizing the report.

Under the circumstances, the Petition will be denied as moot. The doctrine of mootness is designed to avoid deciding issues that have become academic or moot. See, e.g., Batchelder v. Town of Plymouth Zoning Board of Adjustment, 2010 WL 1816366 (5/7/10). Here, the Petitioner has already received the document it is seeking. While the New Hampshire Supreme Court has held that mootness is a doctrine of convenience, and a decision on the merits may be justified where the issue will be recurring, see, e.g. LeBaron v. Wight, 156 N.H. 583, 585 (2007), this consideration is inapplicable to a [2] decision by a trial court, since one superior court judge's decision is not binding on other superior court judges, although it is persuasive authority. In this regard, the Court notes that the issue here was recently decided adversely to Petitioner in Union Leader Corporation v. State of New Hampshire, Department of Safety, No. 10-E-0015 (Hillsborough County North). Accordingly, the Petition is DENIED.


   6/11/10       /s/   

DATE Richard B. McNamara,

Presiding Justice