In this case, the ACLU-NH is representing the Valley News newspaper in seeking an internal report commissioned by the Canaan Police Department that investigated a November 30, 2017 incident in which Officer Samuel Provenza is alleged by a woman to have engaged in excessive force following a motor vehicle stop.  The report examines the incident and whether or not the force used was excessive.  As alleged by the woman, Provenza pulled the woman, who is 5 feet 2 inches tall and weighs 115 pounds, out of her car.  According to the woman, Provenza pulled her out of the car by her hair, which was in a ponytail, kneed her in the left leg, and then tossed her around.  The woman suffered a serious leg injury as a result of the encounter.  This required surgery and extensive physical therapy, and required the woman, a heavy equipment operator with the Department of Transportation, to take time away from her job.  As explained in this case, the public interest in disclosure is strong. The report potentially exposes the very type of misconduct that the Right-to-Know Law is designed to uncover.  As the Supreme Court has explained specifically in the context of police activity, “[t]he public has a strong interest in disclosure of information pertaining to its government activities.”  NHCLU v. City of Manchester, 149 N.H. 437, 442 (2003). 

Attorney(s)

Gilles Bissonnette, ACLU-NH Legal Director, Henry Klementowicz, ACLU-NH Staff Attorney

Date filed

July 2, 2020

Court

Grafton Superior Court

Status

Pending

Case number

215-2020-CV-00155