Press Coverage and Commentary

NEFAC receives considerable press coverage each year for its consistent advocacy of freedom of information and First Amendment concerns. Below are links to stories we’ve appeared in during the current year. Coverage from previous years can be seen here:

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NEFAC Executive Director Joins WPRI’s Newsmakers (video)
WPRI 5.18.23

NEFAC Executive Director Justin Silverman joined WPRI’s Newsmakers to discuss current open government issues with reporters Tim White and Eli Sherman. Silverman explained recent attempts to reform the state’s Access to Public Records Act and open meeting law, among other topics.

Civility Pledge is Off the Agenda in Truro
The Provincetown Independent 5.17.23

Town boards in Massachusetts are not obligated to offer public comment periods, according to Justin Silverman, executive director of New England First Amendment Coalition. “But when they open that forum, the First Amendment kicks in, and any restrictions they put on speech have to abide by First Amendment principles,” he said. Boards can limit public comments to what’s “reasonable,” Silverman said. Cutting off comments at a certain number of minutes is legal, as is mandating that they concern items on the meeting’s agenda. Beyond that, few restrictions would pass muster, he said. . . . “When we’re talking about public officials and whether their speech can be restricted,” Silverman said, “it’s a different conversation.” Elected and appointed officials don’t shed their First Amendment rights during public meetings, Silverman said, “but they’re also a member of government, and their speech as a member of government affects the public differently because they’re in a position of power.”

New Bedford Withholds Public Records Regarding Alleged Police Misconduct
New Bedford Light 5.11.23

“These are police misconduct records that we’re entitled to under the public records law,” said Justin Silverman, executive director of the New England First Amendment Coalition. “It’s a bad look and it’s a bad policy to take money for a public records request that ultimately you’re not going to fulfill.” . . . “There is very strong case law saying that police misconduct records should be released and that there’s a great public interest in communities knowing how their police departments are operating,” said Silverman, who is also an attorney. . . . “We have a public records law to help create trust between citizens and the government,” Silverman said. “So those in government … should be going out of their way to help the public get the information it’s entitled to and not just take its money.”

More Options Better for Public Meetings
The Sun Chronicle 5.6.23

Eight groups — the Massachusetts Newspaper Publishers Association, the Disability Law Center, the ACLU of Massachusetts, Boston Center for Independent Living, Common Cause Massachusetts, MassPIRG, the New England First Amendment Coalition and the New England Newspaper and Press Association — have joined together to support the effort to make hybrid participation permanent. The groups argue that remote meetings preserved public bodies’ ability to operate, but also “opened the door to civic engagement for members of the public and many people who had previously been shut out,” including seniors with mobility issues, people with disabilities, parents with young children, people with elder care and adult care responsibilities, people who can’t drive or afford taxis or rideshares, people with chronic medical conditions, and people who just want to know more about their government. “Remote access is the latest instance of universal design — alongside curb cuts, elevators, closed captioning, audiobooks, and other features — that began as accommodations and expanded to universal popularity,” the groups wrote. “Like these innovations and others emerging during the pandemic, remote access to public meetings should become a permanent feature.”

Bridgeport’s Attempt to Comply with Transparency Law May Not Be Legal, Experts Say
Hearst Connecticut Media Group 5.2.23

Justin Silverman, executive director of the New England First Amendment Coalition, said the recent controversial move by Bridgeport reminded him of a similar case where Boston closed out requests for lack of activity before abandoning the policy. Silverman said it is “reasonable” to reach out to individuals or entities that have long-pending FOI requests to gauge their continued interest. “The problem is when they then don’t get a response and then automatically close out the request when the requester may in fact still be interested in the request,” he said. “That’s not a remedy to the problem. That’s just Bridgeport letting Bridgeport off the hook.”

NEFAC Chief: City’s Denying The Voice’s Right to Know Requests ‘Unconstitutional’
The Rochester Voice 5.2.23

The president of the New England First Amendment Coalition said that the City of Rochester’s decision to deny release of government documents to The Rochester Voice under the Right to Know law is “unconstitutional.” Greg V. Sullivan, Esq., who is also General Counsel for the Union Leader Corporation, said the digital daily’s rights and privileges under 91-A should be immediately reinstated by the city. “The Privileges and Immunities Clause of Article IV, Section 2 of the Constitution states that ‘the citizens of each state shall be entitled to all privileges and immunities of citizens in the several states,'” Sullivan said. “N.H. RSA 91-A contains no language relating to the residence of a requestor. The records are public records.”

Judge Dismisses Defamation Lawsuit Against New Hampshire Public Radio
Current 4.26.23

Two New England newspaper publishers, the Union Leader Corporation and the Caledonian Record Publication Co., Inc., joined the ACLU’s brief along with the New England First Amendment Coalition, a nonprofit made up of lawyers, journalists and academics dedicated to free speech and press issues in the region.

Judge Rules in Favor of NHPR in Defamation Suit Brought By Recovery Center Founder
Union Leader 4.18.23

Several organizations, including the Union Leader Corp., New England First Amendment Coalition, Caledonian Record and ACLU-New Hampshire filed briefs in support of NHPR in the case.

NEFAC Joins A Lively Experiment (video)
Rhode Island PBS 4.14.23

NEFAC’s Amanda Milkovits, a reporter at The Boston Globe, discusses efforts to reform the state’s Access to Public Records Act. She joins Providence Journal reporter Antonia Noori Farzan and The Anchor at Rhode Island College’s Raymond Baccari. The discussion is moderated by Jim Hummel.

Debate Over Access to Police Discipline Records Reaches State House
Portland Press Herald 4.10.23

Judith Meyer, editor of the Sun Journal in Lewiston, the Kennebec Journal and the Morning Sentinel, testified in support of the bill on behalf of the Maine Freedom of Information Coalition and the New England First Amendment Coalition. “A police officer who is disciplined should not have any greater privilege of confidentiality than a school teacher, a county administrator, or any other public employee,” Meyer said. “Given the inherent power of law enforcement and the greater consequences of its abuse, even more transparency is needed relative to other public servants.”

Why Police and State Agencies are Opposing Updates to Rhode Island’s Public Records Laws
The Providence Journal 4.7.23

The New England First Amendment Coalition and ACLU of Rhode Island, among others, said that the proposed changes would lead to more accountability and transparency. Justin Silverman, the executive director of NEFAC, cited the example of Providence police sergeant Joseph Hanley, who in 2021 was convicted of beating a handcuffed suspect. He noted that the Providence Police Department had refused to release body camera footage after the incident took place. Instead, Rep. Jose Batista, the former head of the police oversight board, released the video himself and was subsequently fired.

N.H. Governor’s Policy to Destroy Records Within 30 Days Raises Transparency Concerns
The Boston Globe 3.27.23

“The whole policy smacks in the face of what the Right to Know and Part 1 Article 8 of the New Hampshire constitution calls for, which is open, responsive and accountable government,” said Greg Sullivan, the president of the New England First Amendment Coalition. “Destroying records with such rapidity just seems to be counter to both the spirit and the letter of the law.” Sullivan said such a policy does not promote the core goals of democracy.

Keeping the Light on in New Hampshire: Holding Government Accountable (video)
Concord TV 3.22.23

The New England First Amendment Coalition, the Nackey S. Loeb School and the University of New Hampshire Franklin Pierce School of Law hosted a panel discussion celebrating the values of open and responsive government and how we all play a role.

NEFAC Joins Boston Public Radio (video) (audio)
WGBH 3.21.23

New England First Amendment Coalition Executive Director Justin Silverman joined hosts Jim Braude and Margery Eagan to explore government transparency concerns in Massachusetts. The three discussed the state’s public records law, legislation to require hybrid access to government meetings and why everyone in the state should wave the banner for more sunshine in the Commonwealth.

Federal Judge Orders Columbus Court to Stop Delaying Access to New Complaints
Courthouse News Service 3.21.23

In another action in the District of Vermont, a federal judge enjoined local court clerks from holding back access to e-filed complaints, ruling in favor of Courthouse News and a slew of other publications and news organizations, including the Vermont Press Association, New England First Amendment Coalition, and Burlington Free Press.

Let the Sun Shine on Public Information
The Day 3.17.23

Carlos Virgen, assistant managing editor for audience development, is on the executive committee of the New England First Amendment Coalition. “It’s important that organizations like NEFAC and CFOG continue to advocate for stronger open government and records laws,” Virgen said. “These organizations are not only looking to expand these laws, but also want to make sure that existing laws are being upheld by public agencies. At NEFAC, our Connecticut committee is regularly having these conversations and looking for ways to educate the public about these issues and also hold government agencies to account when necessary.”

Sunshine Week
The Harvard Press 3.17.23

Public meetings and the remote access permitted during the COVID-19 pandemic are a means to that end. But the emergency law that made remote meetings possible is set to expire March 31 unless the Legislature acts to extend it. As Justin Silverman, executive director of the New England First Amendment Coalition wrote in an editorial this week, remote access to government meetings is one of the few silver linings to emerge from COVID-19. “It provides equity and engagement in our democracy that many members of our communities would not otherwise enjoy,” making it possible for citizens with family obligations, elder care, child care, and other issues to engage with their local boards and committees.

‘In the Dark Ages’: Massachusetts Exceptionalism Includes Secrecy in State Government
Mass Dump 3.15.23

Silverman called Healey’s approach to public records a “mess,” saying the governor “would have been better served actually outlining a very specific policy from the beginning as to how she would be handling public records.” “Governor Healey had this great opportunity to enter office and do what no governor before her had done,” Silverman said. “It’s an opportunity that’s really wasted. … That being said, all of this just goes to show the great need that we have to pass legislation that would subject her office to the public records law so we’re not relying on the promises of any governor, present or future, to be more transparent.”

Let the Sun Shine in on Open Government and Freedom of Information
The Daily Item 3.10.23

NEFAC Executive Director Justin Silverman expanded on this goal by noting how late Supreme Court Justice Louis D. Brandeis used a metaphor to describe government transparency’s importance. “Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants,” Brandeis said. Open government and unfettered freedom of information, in his view, are the best ways to keep democracy free from corruption and despotism. The Coalition is advocating for permanent changes to state laws allowing both in-person and remote access to government meetings. Without hybrid meetings, people with young children, disabilities, health challenges, work commitments or other impositions that prevent in-person attendance are at risk of being shut out of the democratic process.

Sunshine Week Prompts A Call To Enhance Civic Engagement
The Newtown Bee 3.9.23

As NEFAC Executive Director Justin Silverman notes, a 2020 study published in The Journal of Civic Information and authored by Jodie Gil and Jonathan L. Wharton involved nearly 100 municipalities in Connecticut following the state’s COVID-19 emergency orders. It found that the majority of these municipalities experienced the same or increased participation during their public budget deliberations as they had previously. While these towns also experienced learning curves and other unexpected challenges, the findings by the authors reinforce what many have come to believe during the last three years: The public is more likely to participate in meetings when given multiple ways to do so. And remote meeting technology is becoming more prevalent, less expensive, and greatly needed by citizens unable to attend in person. There have been few silver linings to emerge from COVID-19. Remote access to government meetings is one of them. It provides equity and engagement in our democracy that many members of our communities would not otherwise enjoy.

Honor Sunshine Week By Requiring Hybrid Access to Government Meetings
Various Publications 3.12.23 – 3.18.23

NEFAC Executive Director Justin Silverman wrote an op/ed for Sunshine Week that appeared in publications throughout the region. The op/ed focuses on the need for permanent changes to state laws allowing hybrid access to government meetings. Below is where the op/ed appeared:

Worcester Telegram & Gazette | Provincetown Banner | The Gardner News | The Daily Hampshire Gazette | Caledonian Record | Greenfield Recorder | New Haven Register | Connecticut Post | Keene Sentinel | The Hour | New Canaan Advertiser | The Darien Times | MassLive | The Milford Mirror | The Wilton Bulletin | The Trumbull Times | The News-Times | The Stamford Advocate | The Ridgefield Press | Shelton Herald | CT Insider | New Hampshire Bulletin | The Greenwich Time | The Middletown Press | Chester Telegraph | The Register Citizen | The Martha’s Vineyard Times | Marblehead Current | The Hull Times | The New Bedford Light | The Cheshire Herald | Shelburne News | The Other Paper

Healey Won’t Release Sexual Harassment Complaints, Settlement Pacts
WBUR 3.9.23

“Gov. Healey has the opportunity to bring transparency to her office like she promised she would,” said Justin Silverman, executive director of the New England First Amendment Coalition, a nonprofit that promotes access to government information. “But it’s becoming more clear with every records denial, that she doesn’t have any intention of doing so.” … Silverman said Healey appears to be following the same practice. “I think it’s become a matter of convenience, if it’s convenient to release records, the governor’s office will do so,” he said. And if not, he said, the office can cite the court decision to say it isn’t obligated to provide the records.

Access Denied: Authorities Refuse to Release Records for Maine School Shooter Hoax Calls
Kennebec Journal 3.4.23

Justin Silverman, attorney and director of the New England First Amendment Coalition, said the denial of the hoax call transcripts “violates FOAA” and that not everything on a police record, or 911 transcript, is confidential. There are parts, such as time the call was made, or where the call came into, that would not jeopardize an investigation. “This information should be released,” said Silverman. “You can’t withhold an entire document because it would be redacted. Redact what you can under the law and release everything else.”

Want to Know What Boston’s Electeds Text Each Other? Good Luck.
The Boston Globe 3.2.23

Part of the problem, according to Justin Silverman, executive director of the New England First Amendment Coalition, is that “we have to take the word of the particular agency or public official that they’ve gone through all their texts.” “There isn’t a whole lot of recourse for requesters when they’re in a situation like that,” said Silverman. If texts are being sent and received by government employees and then deleted a short time later, that would represent a “major red flag,” he said. Regarding the city’s response to the request for Wu’s texts, Silverman said, “It doesn’t seem right that all text messages would be considered transitory under this policy.”“Text messages can be as long as an e-mail or other communication subject to the public records law,” he said. “Messages as short as a single word can be significant when considered collectively with other texts in an exchange.”

CT Family Again Left Waiting for Body Cam Footage After Fatal Police Shooting at Springfield Casino
Hearst Connecticut Media Group 3.1.23

According to Massachusetts Freedom of Information laws, the police can rely on an “ongoing investigation” exemption to withhold the videos from the public, said Justin Silverman, executive director of the New England First Amendment Coalition, which identifies and monitors First Amendment issues in six New England states, including Massachusetts and Connecticut. Silverman was not aware of any Massachusetts guidelines that require police to release the videos before the investigation is complete. In Connecticut, officials, including the state’s inspector general who independently investigates incidents of police use of force, must release body or dash camera footage within 96 hours of an incident. “Generally speaking, the investigatory exemption is one of the more abused exemptions in Massachusetts,” Silverman said.

Council’s Executive Session Trolled By ‘Zoombombers’
Portland Phoenix 3.1.23

Portland lawyer Sigmund Schutz, a member of the New England First Amendment Coalition, said that the city’s explanation on the agenda was vague, but the city’s ability to discuss legal rights and duties with their attorney is “somewhat broad.” “A hot issue around the State has been ‘First Amendment audits’,” Shultz said via email. “The First Amendment covers a fair bit of territory. They certainly could be more precise without giving [away] the game vis-a-vis any confidential or sensitive legal advice they intend to solicit.”

Some Question Mass. Cannabis Commission’s Ban on In-Person Attendees
Boston Business Journal 2.28.23

Justin Silverman, executive director of the New England First Amendment Coalition, said that while the coronavirus is still spreading, using a hybrid format that bars access to the public due to Covid-era policies is rare. He said that while government bodies around the country are reckoning with how to balance safety and public access, it’s essential that regulatory bodies provide as much access as possible. “Government bodies should be going out of their way to provide public access, both in-person and remotely. So if they’re turning people away out of Covid concerns, but there are accommodations that they can reasonably make, maybe as easy as just changing the location of the meeting to a larger room, then those accommodations should be made,” Silverman said. “We should expect all those government bodies to make those accommodations.” . . . Silverman agreed that having face-to-face access is essential for public bodies to hold officials accountable. “It’s also easier for government officials to evade questioning and accountability when they’re meeting exclusively online. So requiring in-person meetings allows the public — concerned citizens, community watchdogs, local journalists — an opportunity to be in the same room and to ask difficult questions that might otherwise be avoided by government officials and be present to monitor what’s going before and after the live stream starts,” he said.

A New Bill Would Expand RI’s APRA Law. Here’s What Could Become Public Record
The Providence Journal 2.23.23

Introduced by Sen. Louis DiPalma, D-Middletown, and Rep. Joseph J. Solomon Jr., D-Warwick, S 0420 and H 5454 were drafted in consultation with groups including the New England First Amendment Coalition, Common Cause Rhode Island, AccessRI, the American Civil Liberties Union of Rhode Island, the Rhode Island Press Association and the Rhode Island League of Women Voters.

Healey, Who Once Pledged to Not Claim Blanket Public Records Exemption as Governor, Refuses to Release Call Logs, E-Mails
The Boston Globe 2.20.23

Justin Silverman, executive director of the New England First Amendment Coalition, said the argument that releasing certain information would “unreasonably hinder” Healey is one her attorneys “alone have created.” “When she responds to a public records request and she is citing exemptions that don’t exist under the law, then it really calls into question that commitment to transparency that she is so publicly making,” he said. “She’s both saying she’s going to follow the law — and then she says there might be other obligations that require her to not follow the law. And she can’t have it both ways.”

In Bid for More Transparency, Changes to RI’s Public Records Law Introduced
WPRI 2.17.23

The legislation, submitted in the Senate by Sen. Lou DiPalma and Rep. Joe Solomon in the House, was crafted with the help of several open government groups that make up Access Rhode Island, including the New England First Amendment Coalition, Common Cause Rhode Island, R.I. Press Association and R.I. League of Women Voters. . . . “It’s time to bring more transparency to Rhode Island,” said Justin Silverman, the executive director of the New England First Amendment Coalition. “This bill includes reasonable, common-sense changes to the Access to Public Records Act that will help keep us better informed about our government.”

When’s a Council Gathering Public and Who Should Be Able to See and Hear It?
New Bedford Light 2.14.23

If you think I’m making too much of this, don’t take my word for it, take the word of the New England First Amendment Coalition. “It would be very hard to argue that this is not a public meeting when they are giving public notice of the meeting,” said Justin Silverman, executive director of the political watchdog group. “It seems like an effort to skirt the open meeting law,” he said. “It seems like a way for the City Council to have meetings while the public has limited access and free to have a quorum or not, doing city business or not, and expecting all New Bedford residents to just take their word for what happens.”

News Coalition Joins Case Attacking Virginia Access Policy
Courthouse News Service 2.13.23

NEFAC and a coalition of national and regional newspapers have piled into a legal brief attacking Virginia’s two-road system of access to court records where one privileged group can review the records online while the press and public are cut off.

Governor Maura Healey Says Her Office is Exempt From the State’s Public Records law. What that Means for All of Us in Massachusetts (audio)
WBUR’s Radio Boston 2.8.23

NEFAC Executive Director speaks to Yasmin Amer at WBUR’s Radio Boston about the state’s public records law. Massachusetts is just one of two states that arguably exempts the governor’s office. Silverman joined WBUR investigative reporters Todd Wallack and Beth Healy.

DAs Ignore Many Requests for Public Records
CommonWealth 2.5.23

Justin Silverman, the executive director of the New England First Amendment Coalition, thinks the DA numbers may actually be understating the problem. “While these numbers are concerning, the amount of requests that go ignored is likely even higher,” Silverman says.  “Not all cases are appealed. Not all requesters dig in and fight for the information they need. I fear what’s represented here is only part of the story.”

Healey Won’t File Legislation Subjecting Her Office to Records Law
CommonWealth 2.1.23

Justin Silverman, executive director of the New England First Amendment coalition, wasn’t sure what to make of Healey’s new policy. “Governor Healey said her office would follow the public records law and that’s the expectation. There is no ‘unique obligations’ exemption in the law and claiming one now seems like an attempt to walk back the promise she made,” he said.

Legislature, Governor’s Office Must Take This Real Opportunity to Upgrade Bay State’s Woeful Governmental Transparency
The Berkshire Eagle 1.27.23

It remains to be seen, however, how Gov. Healey will follow through on those pledges made by candidate Healey. A coalition of transparency advocates last month wrote to Gov. Healey asking her to follow up her promising words with meaningful action. We join in those calls from the Massachusetts Newspaper Publishers Association, the New England Newspaper & Press Association, and the New England First Amendment Coalition.

DEP Targeted for ‘Egregious’ Open Meeting Violation
The New Bedford Light 1.27.23

Justin Silverman, executive director of the New England First Amendment Coalition, said he wasn’t aware of any exceptions in the law that would apply to the stakeholder group. “Just because it’s this ‘ad hoc’ committee, as they describe it, doesn’t make it any less of a public body serving a public purpose,” he said. Silverman said the attorney general’s decision on whether the group had to follow the open meeting law would come down to two main exceptions. One of them allows a single official to appoint an advisory board to help them make a decision they have the authority to make on their own. One example would be a mayor assembling a panel to help her nominate candidates for a staff position, something the mayor could do herself. But the stakeholder group was advising on a regulatory process that involves an entire division. There’s another exception for committees with a broad, flexible membership — like an advisory group for a school that’s open to any student, parent or teacher. Since it’s not clear who counts as a member or who may be present at any particular meeting, Silverman said a group like that would be exempt. But the environmental agency has posted a list defining the stakeholder group members, and Silverman said the exemption wouldn’t apply to an invite-only committee.

After 3 Reporters Turned Away From Hearings, Newsrooms Raise Concerns About Access
VTDigger 1.17.23

Justin Silverman, executive director of the New England First Amendment Coalition, said Tuesday it is essential that all journalists get equal access to committee meetings. “If these restrictions that are currently in place don’t allow that to happen, then the Legislature should reconsider those restrictions and determine whether they are still necessary given the health concerns of Covid,” he said. Legislative staffers have also argued that even if reporters — or other members of the public — are turned away from a committee meeting because of capacity limits, they can still watch the proceedings on live video feeds of each meeting streamed on YouTube. But Silverman said video streams, while important for transparency, don’t provide the level of access that reporters need — a concern echoed in the letter from newsroom leaders. “Journalists need the opportunity to be in the room because they need to hear side conversations,” Silverman said. “They need to be there to witness what happens before that livestreaming starts, and what occurs after it ends.” “Journalists need the opportunity to follow up with legislators in-person, face-to-face,” he added, “and ask difficult questions that could otherwise be evaded.”

Healey Promised to Bring Transparency. It’s Not Clear If She’ll Follow Through
The Boston Globe 1.16.23

Healey gets credit for signaling a break from her predecessors. But as Justin Silverman, executive director of the New England First Amendment Coalition, fairly points out, “she hasn’t provided any details, she hasn’t shared with us any steps that she’s going to take to make that a reality,” and “until she does, until she puts more action into those words, it’s just a promise unfulfilled.” Last month, Silverman’s First Amendment Coalition, the Massachusetts Newspaper Publishers Association, and the New England Newspaper & Press Association wrote a letter to Healey asking her to put some muscle behind her pledge. The groups wanted the governor, immediately after taking office, to issue an executive order subjecting her office to the public records law. They wanted her to appoint a public records officer, too. And they are calling on her to file and support legislation clarifying that the public records law applies to the governor’s office.

Healey Off to Fine Start — Now Time for Follow-Through
The Eagle-Tribune 1.14.23

In December, a coalition of newspapers and open government groups called on then Gov.-elect Healey not to claim the public records law exemption and asked her to file legislation to make all three branches of government subject to records law. Justin Silverman, executive director of the New England First Amendment Coalition, said he welcomes Healeys pledges to bring more transparency to Beacon Hill. “She could have easily just fallen in line with previous governors and claimed the exemption,” he said. “But she’s not doing that, and deserves credit for it.”

Healey Won’t Claim Public Records Exemption
The Eagle-Tribune 1.12.23

In a letter to Healey, the Massachusetts Newspaper Publishers Association, the New England Newspaper and Press Association, and the New England First Amendment Coalition, wrote that she has the “singular opportunity” to reverse an “ill-conceived policy that has allowed the governor’s office to operate under a level of secrecy that is unimaginable” in other states. Justin Silverman, executive director of the New England First Amendment Coalition, said he welcomes Healeys pledges to bring more transparency to Beacon Hill. “She could have easily just fallen in line with previous governors and claimed the exemption,” he said. “But she’s not doing that, and deserves credit for it.” That said, Silverman said there are lingering questions about how the Healey administration will implement the changes and exactly what kinds of records will be subject to public disclosure. “There aren’t any details and she hasn’t provided any insight into how this will happen,” he said. “And, as of yet, we haven’t received any response from her to our letter, which outlined some specific things she could do.”

Private Equity CEO Won’t Face Charges in Old North Wharf Boat Sabotage Case
Nantucket Current 1.6.23

According to the New England First Amendment Coalition, “Most criminal prosecutions begin with an arrest, followed by an application for a criminal complaint by a law enforcement officer. A law enforcement officer or private citizen, however, can also file an application for issuance of a criminal complaint without the occurrence of an arrest. Applications without arrests can be subject to a ‘show cause’ hearing when there is no threat of imminent bodily injury, the commission of a crime, or of the accused fleeing the state.” That is what happened following the Environmental Police investigation of Wolpow last fall.