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Former Epsom state rep makes variety of claims in court

CONCORD - Former state Rep. Tony Soltani and Assistant Hillsborough County Superior Court North Attorney Michael Valentine faced off again Monday in Merrimack County Circuit Court, arguing motions before Judge Richard McNamara, who at times looked like he wished he had a referee's whistle.

It was the final hearing on many motions, most filed by Soltani, an attorney who is representing himself in a trial starting Feb. 11 on charges Soltani took it upon himself to try to catch a motorist fleeing at high speed from a traffic stop.

Soltani claims he was arrested by a "rogue" Epsom police officer he had complained about and says the charge was upgraded to a felony reckless conduct because of what he calls "prosecutorial vindictiveness."

Soltani, a former Epsom police officer himself, maintains he did the right thing. He said he saw the motorist flee, knocking back the officer who had stopped him, and says he believed he needed to make a citizen's arrest to prevent further harm.

Monday's motions hearing was to address a number of issues, including Soltani's allegations that police have been following and harassing him and his children, and that Valentine has been checking up on him.

Soltani, who is also the former town counsel for Epsom, dismissed Valentine's explanation that the county attorney's office keeps track of its defendants as a matter of policy.

He also argued his arrest was illegal because he was arrested by an Epsom officer in Chichester and it was not a fresh pursuit, but Valentine argued the officer had seen Soltani driving at high speed, "running people who were in traffic off the road."

Soltani argued that the initial citation for yellow line violation was escalated first because of the arresting officer's dislike of him and was elevated to a "creative" felony because he had made complaints to the Attorney General's office about the way some cases were handled by the Hillsborough County Attorney and Valentine himself.

He alleged the prosecutor has dragged his feet in providing discovery, while Valentine told the judge he has not received information from Soltani on the expert witnesses among the 29 witnesses Soltani has on his list for trial.

Soltani reserved his sharpest criticism for Valentine's words at his arraignment in Circuit Court-Concord District Division in May 2012.

"In open court during my arraignment you embarrassed me," said Soltani, who said it sounded to him as though Valentine was claiming he had drug and alcohol issues and shouldn't have weapons. "Those were shameful," said Soltani. "You humiliated me."

Valentine responded that he checked the typical boxes on the bail form. As for Soltani's complaint that Valentine sought five years of Soltani's medical records, Valentine contended that was only for the plea offer that included LADAC and mental health evaluations.

Soltani also said Valentine brought up the issue of an underage drinking party at Soltani's house, which Soltani says he knew nothing about.

He said he had gone down to the basement once, but only to tell the kids to lower the music. As for what those at the party said, after being held in police custody for hours, Soltani said: "I saw the report. It was pure fiction."

Soltani said to Valentine: "You lied to the judge. You told him I knew."

Judge McNamara then reminded Soltani: "I urged you in the strongest terms not to represent yourself."

Soltani responded he knows the saying about a lawyer who represents himself has a fool for a client. He said he would have someone else there, but he is representing himself.

The case is being prosecuted by the Hillsborough county attorney to avoid any possible conflict of interest.

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