The last two days, Linda Blodgett, JoAnne Higgins, James Wettlaufer, Paul Foster, and the town’s attorney in the matter, Tani E. Sapirstein, spent approximately eight hours each in Court. James LaMountain, his attorney Joseph A. Franco, Mike LaMountain, and three farm hands were forced to waste two days of their time as well.
The criminal matter of the Commonwealth (Department of Environmental Protection, “DEP”) against James LaMountain that was heard today in Palmer District Court could best be described as inadept. Judge Margaret R. Guzman was presiding over the criminal case stemming from LaMountain’s arrest back on August 31, 2009. The Holland Blog reported about the incident in the piece Judge scolds Selectboard and DEP officials. The District Attorney struggled as the DEP officials were unable to produce even one witness to prove a single element of the fabricated allegations dumped on LaMountain in a most irresponsible way. In an attempt to implicate LaMountain, environmental police officers and other DEP officials charged LaMountain with illegal burnings and holding three wild turkeys captive. The officials who are responsible for pursuing this case in a frivolous manner would be well advised to subscribe to a basic course in criminal justice so they could familiarize themselves with the basics; the question of what kind of standard of proof is being applied in a civil proceeding, the kind of standard of proof in a criminal proceeding, and what the difference is. If it is ignorance and not malicious prosecution, DEP officials could spare themselves from future embarrassments.
The DEP officials had nothing, absolutely nothing to substantiate their allegations! The case was dismissed without LaMountain having to rebut any allegations or calling any of his own witnesses!
The dismissal proves what the Holland Blog claimed in its piece to be true; LaMountain neither lit the fires to cook meat, nor does he own the three wild turkeys.
Yesterday, a hearing in the case Town of Holland Fire Department v. James P. LaMountain and Northeast Concepts, Inc., took place in Hampden Superior Court in Springfield. Selectman James Wettlaufer and Chief Paul Foster of the Holland Fire Department spent about three hours at the Court House. Tani E. Sapirstein, the lawyer representing the town in this frivolous lawsuit is on the list of Super Lawyers and charges the town at least $300.00 an hour as high profile attorneys on the list of Super lawyers do.
This lawsuit is a civil matter stemming from the same incident that took place on August 31, 2009 and was initiated by the town of Holland.
LaMountain was arrested by Officers of the Environmental Police for alleged offenses despite the fact that the alleged offenses are not arrestable offenses.
The town’s suit in Superior Court is an attempt to recover, “the total cost for extinguishing the brush fire at Mashapaug Road on August 31, 2009 [which] was $1,057.50.” See complaint filed by the town.
The verified complaint filed by the town further requested injunctive relief, requested that the court, “issue a preliminary injunction enjoining and restraining Defendants from open burning in the Town of Holland unless expressly and specifically authorized by the Fire Chief;” and that the court enter “a permanent injunction” after the trial.
The Superior Court judge in this case, Judge Bertha Josephson, is not unfamiliar with what is going on in Holland. She conducted the trial in my case, Frei v. Planning Board of Holland, town of Holland, during which she was duped by Vincent McCaughey, town counsel. Her erroneous decision was a direct result of McCaughey’s misrepresentation of the law and was overturned on Appeal. (Judeges don’t like that!) A new judgment was subsequently issued in my favor.
Judge Josephson also presided over another case involving LaMountain back in 2007.
Josephson ordered an evidentiary hearing. Paul Foster, chief of the Holland Fire Department, signed an affidavit attached to the verified complaint filed by the town. Some of the statements in Fosters affidavit are contradicting Housing Court Judge Fein’s decision which could expose Foster to perjury charges. Click here to read the complaint and attached affidavit signed by Foster.
It will be interesting to see whether the chairman of the Board of Selectmen, James Wettlaufer, will announce during the next televised meeting of the Board, that another attempt to jail LaMountain without cause failed miserably.
December 17, 2009, Peter Frei