County defends reduction of road rage charge

  • Patricia Martin has announced a write-in campaign as a Democratic candidate for the Cheshire district 11 state representative seat. (Nicholas Handy / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Staff photo by Nicholas Handy

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Thursday, September 21, 2017 10:26AM

Cheshire County Attorney D. Chris McLaughlin has responded to a Rindge woman’s complaint about the way his office handled a recent road rage case in Rindge, reiterating that his office didn’t have enough evidence to pursue a felony level charge.

Both McLaughlin and complainant Patricia Martin were in attendance at the Cheshire County Commissioners meeting on Wednesday morning, as the commissioners placed Martin’s complaint on their agenda for discussion.

McLaughlin said during the meeting that his office recommended that Rindge’s town prosecutor Vint Boggis pursue a class B misdemeanor charge of criminal threatening after his office determined there wasn’t enough evidence charge Larry Cleveland with a felony after there was debate as to whether Cleveland pulled a gun or pointed a gloved hand during a December road rage incident. 

“Cleveland and his significant other indicated that no gun was drawn… the driver of the other vehicle did not see a gun,” said McLaughlin, who said that only the two passengers of the other vehicle had reported seeing a gun. “I don’t know where the passengers were sitting, but the driver said nothing about a gun.”

McLaughlin said his office deemed it better to have the town pursue a misdemeanor charge as the case would be heard in front of one district judge, rather than a Superior Court jury. Cleveland would eventually plead no contest to a violation level disorderly conduct charge on Aug. 15 before the case went to trial. 

Martin filed a complaint with the Cheshire County Commissioners on Aug. 28, voicing her frustration with the way McLaughlin’s office handled the case and a recent law change, rescinding the requirement for concealed carry permits. 

“I didn’t worry much before the constitutional carry law was passed because having the police chief involved gave me a sense of security,” said Martin, who said she prefers that people conceal carry their firearms, but wishes that police chiefs’ discretion in the issuing of concealed carry permits was still a part of the process. “I ask you to act on behalf of all unarmed citizens.”

Cheshire County Commissioner Chairman Peter Graves asked Martin what she wanted the commissioners to do about her concerns, adding that the commissioners do not get involved in what cases McLaughlin’s office chooses to pursue. 

County Administrator Christopher C. Coates told Martin that she should look to her elected officials if she is upset with the law as it currently stands, something Martin told the Ledger-Transcript after the meeting that she would pursue. 

“I’m serious about [advocating for a law change],” said Martin. “I’m not trying to stir up controversy or make myself a target.”

McLaughlin also made the point that Martin’s issues surrounding the Cleveland case and the constitutional carry law were not at all connected. He also clarified that the constitutional carry law was enacted after the alleged incident took place.

Martin had initially filed a complaint with the town of Rindge against Town Prosecutor Vint Boggis, but was later told it was not his decision to not pursue a felony level charge.

Martin then attempted to file a complaint with the Cheshire County Attorney’s Office and the District Attorney’s Office, but said she couldn’t find a way to file a complaint. 

Nicholas Handy can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 235 or nhandy@ledgertranscript.com. He is also on Twitter @nhandyMLT.