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Local News

May 17, 2013

State's highest court rejects drunk driver's plea


On Monday, the SJC ruled that the officer “properly effectuated a stop in order to ensure that the defendant’s erratic operation did not endanger other drivers, and in order to determine whether the defendant was operating while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. These actions were within the authority that the mutual aid agreement granted him. In addition, [the officer]’s radio call to Amesbury shortly after effectuating the stop fulfilled the requirement in the agreement that he ‘notify the host community as soon as practically possible.’”

Praising the ruling was Essex County District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett, who called it a common-sense decision that recognizes the authority of police officers to protect the public from immediate danger when outside of their jurisdiction.

“A drunk driver poses a grave threat to the community. In making the stop, this officer acted appropriately to ensure the safety of the public,” Blodgett said.

After being indicted in Essex Superior Court in October of that year, a series of motions filed by Bartlett’s attorneys prolonged the case into 2011. In 2010, his attorney filed a motion to suppress evidence collected by local police, arguing that the Merrimac police officer had no right to stop him from leaving the parking lot because he was out of his jurisdiction.

A Superior Court judge was not convinced and denied the motion in April 2010. Bartlett appealed the judge’s decision, leading to an appeals court judge, who denied his claim in November 2010. In his February 2011 superior court trial, Bartlett was found guilty of OUI (fifth offense) and possession of a class D substance. He was found not guilty of possession of a class C substance.

That conviction was later dismissed by the state as Bartlett agreed to plead guilty to a similar OUI charge. Bartlett was sentenced to 21/2 years in state prison with three years probation but filed an appeal shortly thereafter.

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