NH Supreme Court turns down Addison challenges: A list
The New Hampshire Supreme Court turned down all 22 challenges raised by Michael Addison's lawyers. Here are some of the challenges and the court's rulings:
Issue: The state's death penalty is cruel and unusual punishment under both the federal and state constitutions.
Ruling: "We presume the validity of 'a punishment selected by a democratically elected legislature' and conclude that the defendant has not met the 'heavy burden [that] rests on those who would attack the judgment of the representatives of the people.'"
Issue: Given extensive research, it is impossible to guarantee race will not play a role in a murder trial involving a black defendant and white victim.
Ruling: The trial court used both jury questioning and jury instructions to address race-related issues. "(W)e hold that the defendant's social science research is insufficient to establish his claim of purposeful racial discrimination under the State Equal Protection Clause."
Issue: Attorney General and chief prosecutor Kelly Ayotte had emailed a political adviser, asking if he was aware of media attention in the days following Briggs' death. Adviser Robert Varsalone responded: "Where does AG Ayotte stand on the Death Penalty? BY THE SWITCH." Defense attorneys wanted access to more of Ayotte's emails. Defense attorneys also said the e-mail rebuts a 2008 letter by the prosecution that explains their reasonings for not seeking a plea bargain.
Ruling: "We agree with the trial court that 'if the State had offered Ayotte's letter to prove her motivations for seeking the death penalty, the letter would not have been admissible because it would not have been relevant to counter defendant's argument that his (Addison's) offer to plead guilty was a mitigating factor.'"
Issue: Trial should have been moved from Manchester, where Michael Briggs worked as a police officer, and pretrial publicity was extensive.
Ruling: "Although the media coverage was extensive, it was primarily factual and the bulk of the publicity that contained material that may be characterized as 'inflammatory' appeared during the weeks immediately following the murder, nearly two years before jury selection."
Issue: Because of pretrial publicity, jurors would have been hostile to defendant Michael Briggs.
Ruling: "While many of the prospective jurors had prior knowledge about the case, most who were questioned about their exposure to media coverage said that they knew little about the case, had paid attention only when the crime occurred two years earlier, or were too busy in their lives to pay attention to the news."
Issue: The Addison jury heard evidence of Addison's involvement in two armed robberies and an attempted shooing before Briggs' shooting.
Ruling: "The State's proffered evidence created a strong inference that the three prior crimes figured prominently in the defendant's mind when Officer Briggs confronted him."