NEWPORT – It’s a win. The Orleans County State’s Attorney has dismissed the charge of trespassing against Barton Chronicle publisher Chris Braithwaite.
In a statement published on the Barton Chronicle website (http://bartonchronicle.com/), Braithwaite said: “It is my hope that journalists who find themselves in a similar situation will bear this case in mind when they are ordered to leave the scene of important public event.”
Attorney Phil White had filed a new motion to dismiss the case after receiving documents subpoenaed from Green Mountain Power (GMP).
A significant portion of the documents are redacted (blackened out) due to a protective order and only the court and the parties involved know what it says. White released the redacted version of the motion publicly and gave the full motion to the court. He then asked for an evidentiary hearing and for the full motion describing the new evidence to be unsealed.
White also wanted GMP agents present to give testimony, including Dave Coriell, who was on the mountain when Braithwaite was arrested.
Braithwaite, 68 of West Glover, was charged with unlawful trespass when he was covering a protest and subsequent arrests at the GMP wind project site on Lowell Mountain last December.
“(T)he state will be unable to establish beyond a reasonable doubt that the corporate entity GMP did not give Braithwaite permission to be on the property as a working journalist covering the protest and any arrest made by law enforcing officers,” White wrote in his motion.
In a deposition, Coriell said he read Braithwaite’s editorials opposing the wind project. “We never didn’t give him access to the site because of his opinions. We sent him the regular updates, and we invited him to the site.”
Coriell was asked: If Braithwaite had been wearing a hard hat and safety vest, would he have been allowed to cover the protest?
“I wasn’t the one to make the determination – whether he was abiding by what the sheriff’s deputy was asking of him. At that point my responsibility was to let the sheriff’s deputies do their job.”
Coriell also said in the deposition that he had told the sheriff that GMP couldn’t have any one “unauthorized” on the site.
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