CONTACT: Gilles Bissonnette, ACLU-NH Legal Director, firstname.lastname@example.org
Yesterday, the ACLU-NH was informed that the State has dismissed all 16 cases arising out of the border patrol checkpoint that occurred in August 2017 on Interstate 93 in Woodstock, New Hampshire. These cases were dismissed after the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office decided to not appeal the Circuit Court’s decisions on May 1, 2018 and August 22, 2018 declaring that the August 2017 border patrol checkpoint was “unconstitutional under both State and federal law.” On August 22, 2018, the Circuit Court affirmed its May 1, 2018 ruling that this checkpoint was unconstitutional. Woodstock is a small town (population 1,374) in the White Mountains—a popular tourist attraction—that is approximately 90 driving miles from the Canadian border.
The ACLU-NH challenged the constitutionality of this border patrol checkpoint in these 16 cases. These 16 individuals were travelling in New Hampshire lawfully and were seized and searched during this checkpoint without any suspicion that they had committed a crime. The State ultimately charged these individuals with allegedly possessing small amounts of drugs for personal use. During this border patrol checkpoint, the Woodstock Police Department worked in concert with federal United States Customs and Border Protection to circumvent the independent protections provided by the New Hampshire Constitution against dog-sniff searches in the absence of a warrant or reasonable suspicion.
Gilles Bissonnette, the ACLU-NH’s Legal Director and co-counsel on the case, had this reaction to these dismissals:
We are pleased that these cases have finally been dismissed and that this matter is now over. The result in these cases is a victory for civil liberties. As the Circuit Court ruled, these checkpoints flagrantly violated the New Hampshire Constitution and the Fourth Amendment. CPB and the Woodstock Police Department searched and seized hundreds, if not thousands, of the individuals during the summer tourist season without any reason to believe that these individuals had committed a crime. This is not how a free society works.
These checkpoints run contrary to New Hampshire’s “live free or die” spirit and the ACLU-NH will continue to advocate against them. These checkpoints are an opportunity for leadership from our congressional delegation and Governor. Now is the time for these leaders to speak out and demand an end to these checkpoints that detain hundreds, if not thousands, of individuals in violation of New Hampshire values.
The Court’s May 1, 2018 is here: https://www.aclu-nh.org/en/news/court-rules-2017-border-patrol-checkpoints-woodstock-nh-were-unconstitutional
The Court’s August 22, 2018 Order is here: https://www.aclu-nh.org/sites/default/files/field_documents/woodstock_recon_order.pdf