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NH Supreme Court rules Kibby letters should be made public

By DOUG ALDEN
New Hampshire Union Leader

August 15. 2017 1:02PM
Nathaniel Kibby looks around the courtroom in Belknap County Superior Court during a hearing in 2015. (FILE PHOTO/Pool/Jim Cole)

CONCORD — The state Supreme Court has ruled that letters written from jail by a man convicted of kidnapping and sexually assaulting a Conway teen while holding her captive for nine months should be made public.

The decision released Tuesday upheld a Superior Court judge’s ruling that letters Nathaniel Kibby wrote while his case was pending and motions about his court-appointed attorney could be added to the public record.

Kibby, who pleaded guilty in May 2016 to seven felony charges, challenged the ruling by Judge Larry Smukler, contending the correspondence and documents were protected by attorney-client privilege.

In a ruling written by Chief Justice Linda Dalianis, the Supreme Court found Kibby’s challenge fell short of establishing that the material contained privileged communications that should remain under seal.

Kibby also conceded that unsealing the documents would not compromise his defense but he sought a ruling for “future cases.”

“We hold that he has failed, as a matter of law, to meet his burden of demonstrating with specificity a compelling interest in this case to justify a compelling interest in this case to justify maintaining the motions under seal,” Dalianis wrote in the unanimous decision.

Kibby has 10 days to ask the court to reconsider its decision.

The ruling can be read below:



Kibby pleaded guilty to seven felonies, including three rape charges. He is serving a sentence of 45 to 90 years in prison. After issuing the sentence, Smukler ruled that the sealed documents could be added to the public record in June 2016, but defense counsel objected; the Supreme Court granted a stay. The Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Kibby’s appeal April 19.

Kibby kidnapped the girl in October 2013 as she walked home from school in Conway, pulling a gun and threatening to kill her. Kibby held the girl captive for nine months, repeatedly raping and torturing her in his Gorham trailer and in a storage container he kept outside.

The girl returned home in July 2014. Kibby was arrested the following week after she identified him as her captor.

dalden@unionleader.com


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