Gilles Bissonnette, ACLU-NH Legal Director

Title/Position

Legal Director

Twitter handle

E-mail address

Pronouns

He/His

Gilles has been with the ACLU of New Hampshire since 2013.  While at the ACLU-NH, Gilles has testified before the New Hampshire legislature on over one hundred bills impacting civil liberties.  He has also achieved significant litgation victories, including in the following cases:

VOTING RIGHTS

  • Saucedo v. State of New Hampshire, No. 17-cv-183-LM, 2018 U.S. Dist. Lexis 136895 (D.N.H. Aug. 14, 2018) (striking down, on procedural due process grounds, a New Hampshire law that invalidated the absentee ballots of hundreds of voters, many of whom are disabled, based on signature comparisons without notice or an opportunity to cure).
  • Guare  v. State of New Hampshire, 167 N.H. 658 (2015) (striking down voter registration form language that would impose a chilling effect on the right to vote of those domiciled in New Hampshire).

FIRST AMENDMENT

  • Rideout v. State of New Hampshire, 123 F. Supp. 3d 218 (D.N.H. 2015), aff'd, 838 F.3d 65 (1st Cir. 2016), cert denied, 137 S. Ct. 1435 (2017) (striking down New Hampshire law banning online "ballot selfies" on grounds that it violates the First Amendment).
  • Valentin v. City of Manchester,  No. 15-cv-00235-PB (D.N.H.) (secured $275,000 settlement in lawsuit addressing the First Amendment right to record the police where ACLU-NH client was arrested for audio recording a conversation with two Manchester police department officers while in a public place and while the officers were performing their official duties).
  • State of New Hampshire v. Andersen, No. 218-2018-cr-00241 (N.H. Super. Ct., Rockingham Cty. Aug. 31, 2018) (vacating "gag order" that barred disclosure of police reports because the order was "sweeping" and "violate[d] the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and Part I, Article 22 of the New Hampshire Constitution").
  • State of New Hampshire v. Bonacorsi, Nos. 218-2014-CR-01357, 218-2015-CR-8682016, N.H. Super. LEXIS 22 (N.H. Super. Ct., Rockingham Cty. May 18, 2016) (narrowing and striking down portions of online identifier statute on First Amendment grounds).
  • State of New Hampshire v. Clay, No. 450-2015-cr-00414 (N.H. 4th Cir., Dist. Div., Laconia June 9, 2015) (securing dismissal of disorderly conduct charge on First Amendment grounds where client was arrested during a public meeting simply for engaging in political, non-disruptive speech on matters of public concern).
  • Clay v. Town of Alton, No. 15-cv-00279-JL (D.N.H.) (secured $42,500 settlement in lawsuit where, in violation of the First Amendment, client was arrested during a public meeting simply for engaging in political, non-disruptive speech on matters of public concern).
  • Albert v. City of Manchester (secured $17,500 settlement in a case where client was wrongly arrested for recording in public).
  • Kearns v. Town of Littleton (secured $17,500 settlement and further police training in case where client was arrested simply for allegedly swearing at a parking enforcement official in violation of the First Amendment).
  • City of Keene v. Cleaveland, 167 N.H. 731 (2015) (affirming, in part, dismissal of civil causes of action against speakers on the ground that "the First Amendment shields the respondents from tort liability for the challenged conduct"; as amicus).

IMMIGRANTS' RIGHTS

  • State of New Hampshire v. McCarthy, et al., No. 469-2017-cr-01888, et al., (N.H. 2nd Cir. Ct., Dist. Div., Plymouth May 1, 2018), reconsideration denied on Aug. 21, 2018 (holding that border patrol checkpoints conducted by Customs and Border Patrol, in conjunction with the local police, in Woodstock, NH 90 driving miles from the border violated Part I, Article 19 of the New Hampshire Constitution and the Fourth Amendment).
  • Devitri v. Cronen, No. 17-cv-11842-PBS, 2017 U.S. Dist. Lexis 194337 (D. Mass. Nov. 27, 2017) (holding that federal court jurisdiction exists in class action lawsuit to halt the immediate deportation of Indonesian nationals residing in New Hampshire and who faced immediate removal to Indonesia where they are in danger of persecution).
  • Devitri v. Cronen, No. 17-cv-11842-PBS, 2018 U.S. Lexis 16568 (D. Mass. Feb. 1, 2018) (issuing preliminary injunction preventing the immediate deportation of Indonesian nationals residing in New Hampshire and who faced immediate removal to Indonesia where they are in danger of persecution).

CRIMINALIZATION OF POVERTY

  • Petrello v. City of Manchester, No. 16-cv-008-LM, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 144793 (D.N.H. Sep. 7, 2017) (striking down, on First Amendment grounds, Manchester's anti-panhandling ordinance, as well as permanently enjoining Manchester's anti-panhandling police practices; case settled for $89,000 in attorneys' fees and damages).
  • Pendleton v. City of Nashua (secured $15,000 settlement in a case where homeless client was arrested and spent 33 days in jail simply for walking along a public foot path in the park adjacent to the Nashua Public Library in violation of his First Amendment and Fourteenth Amendment rights).
  • Pendleton v. Town of Hudson, No. 14-cv-00365-PB (D.N.H.) (secured $37,500 settlement and permanent consent order in lawsuit where Town detained, harassed, threatened, dispersed, and cited peaceful panhandlers in violation of the First, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendments).

CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM

  • State of New Hampshire v. Brawley, No. 2017-043, 2018 N.H. LEXIS 172 (N.H. Sup. Ct. Sept. 18, 2018) (agreeing with amicus ACLU-NH that legislature's 2017 law aimed at curbing debtors' prisons practices applies to the State’s efforts to recoup public defender fees from indigent defendants).
  • Doe v. State of New Hampshire, 167 N.H. 382 (2015) (New Hampshire's retroactive, lifetime registration requirements for certain offenders are “punitive in effect” and therefore unconstitutional as applied to client under New Hampshire Constitution's bar on retrospective laws).
  • State of New Hampshire v. Mazzaglia, No. 2014-0592 (N.H. Sup. Ct. Sept. 29, 2016) (New Hampshire Supreme Court order agreeing with the position of the victim, victims’ rights advocates, and the ACLU-NH that documents concerning a victim’s prior consensual sexual activity should be sealed pending appeal; as amicus).
  • State of New Hampshire v. Brouillette, 166 N.H. 487 (2014) (holding that indigent defendants who have secured private counsel — including on a pro bono basis — have the right to obtain state funds for experts and other ancillary defense services necessary for an adequate defense; as amicus).
  • Petition of State of New Hampshire, 166 N.H. 659 (2014) (applying retroactively U.S. Supreme Court decision holding that mandatory life without parole sentences for juveniles violates the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment; as amicus).

PRISONERS' RIGHTS

  • Y.F. v. State of New Hampshire, No. 15-cv-00510-PB (D.N.H.) (successful challenge to state prison mail policy banning inmates from receiving all original handwritten drawings and pictures in the mail; under settlement, State agreed to allow certain original handwritten drawings and pictures that are done in pen or pencil).

REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS

  • Appeal of Farmington School District, 168 N.H. 726 (2016) (holding that the Farmington School Board improperly declined to renew a guidance counselor's employment contract after the counselor sought independent legal counsel and successfully obtained a temporary restraining order before the Strafford County Superior Court to protect her student’s right to privacy that was going to be imminently violated by the Farmington High School Principal; as amicus).

LGBT RIGHTS

  • In the Matter of Munson and Beal, 169 N.H. 274 (2016) (a case concerning the fair distribution of property in a divorce between two women who were in a 20+ year committed relationship, and joined in a civil union/married for four of those years, holding that premarital cohabitation can be considered when formulating an equitable distribution of the marital property; as amicus).

Prior to joining the ACLU, Gilles was a civil litigator in Boston at the law firms of Choate Hall & Stewart LLP, Todd & Weld LLP, and Cooley LLP.

Gilles clerked for Judge Thomas M. Golden of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.  Gilles received his J.D. from UCLA School of Law where he was the Chief Comments Editor of the UCLA Law Review.  He received his B.A. and M.A. in history from Washington University in St. Louis.  He is admitted to practice law in the state and federal courts in New Hampshire, the federal courts in Massachusetts, the First Circuit Court of Appeals, and the United States Supreme Court. 

Gilles has taught multiple Continuing Legal Education courses on the United States and New Hampshire Constitutions, and he is a trustee of the New Hampshire Supreme Court Society.  His publications and appearances include:

 

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