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January 11, 2013

Highest court to hear DUI case

BOSTON – A New Hampshire man’s desire to stay out of prison for the next 2 1/2 years is in the hands of state Supreme Judicial Court judges who will decide whether to grant his request to squash damning evidence that led him to plead guilty to a fifth drunken driving charge in 2011.

Gregory S. Bartlett, 51, of Plaistow, N.H. is arguing that evidence that led to his guilty plea was illegally obtained after a Merrimac police officer driving through Amesbury blocked him from leaving the Mandarin Chinese Restaurant parking lot after witnessing him drive erratically on Route 110.

Expected to present arguments yesterday inside the John Adams Courthouse were Bartlett’s attorney Geoffrey DuBosque and Assistant District Attorney Elin H. Graydon. A clerk in the downtown Boston courthouse said the judges have 130 days to render a decision.

Bartlett said because the Merrimac police officer was out of his jurisdiction, he had no authority to detain him until Amesbury police arrived about a minute later. In addition to the drunken driving charge Bartlett was charged with possession of a class D substance to distribute and distribution of a class C substance.

According to court documents, then Merrimac police officer Charles Sciacca, now a member of the Amesbury Police Department, had crossed into Amesbury to purchase a soda when he noticed Bartlett crossing repeatedly over the middle line on Route 110 west. Suspecting Bartlett might be intoxicated, Sciacca followed him, with an intent to pull him over in Merrimac. But less than a mile from Merrimac, Bartlett stopped abruptly in the middle of the road, turned on his blinkers and took a left turn into the restaurant’s parking lot. Sciacca followed Bartlett into the lot, and fearing for the public’s safety and a safety of the driver, he pulled in front of the Bartlett’s Chrysler blocking him in. He then called Amesbury police who sent an officer to scene right away.

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