Byrnes’ Decision in Nilan Show-Cause Reversed; Appellate Judge Finds 'Probable Cause'; Criminal Complaint to Issue
"A resolution of factual disputes is a matter for trial."
-- Associate Justice Wm. P. Hadley, 02/10/12, in his decision overturning Westfield Clerk-Magistrate Nathan A. Byrnes.
"I informed Ms. Nilan that she had struck a person that night and Ms. Nilan responded by saying, 'Well he just took off.' "
-- Pittsfield Police Officer Marc E. Maddalena, investigating officer, writing in his police report about the accident on Winesap Road the evening of December 8, 2011.
The Berkshire Eagle, After Misreporting Story Saturday, Now Playing 'Catch-up'.
by G.M. Heller
Posted to Topix: February 13, 2012, 09:39 a.m.
Published on Berkshire Blog:
Monday, February 13, 2012, 10:15 a.m..
Updated: February 13, 2012, 09:23 p.m.
Springfield, MA -- Massachusetts Associate Justice William P. Hadley ruled Friday that he will allow the motion for redetermination of the application for criminal complaint against Meredith Nilan in the matter of a hit-run accident in which hospital administrator Peter Moore was severely injured the evening of December 8, 2011 while out jogging with his dog just blocks from home.
Meredith Nilan is accused by Pittsfield Police with leaving the scene of a personal injury accident and negligent operation of a motor vehicle the evening of December 8, 2011 which left hospital administrator Peter Moore with severe injuries while out jogging with his dog. Photo Credit: Facebook
The appeal had been filed by the Pittsfield Police Department in the wake of a decision in January by Asst. Clerk-Magistrate Nathan A. Byrnes of Westfield District Court, who had ruled -- after a show-cause hearing closed to victim Moore and his lawyer -- that there was "no probable cause" to warrant issuing any criminal complaint against Ms. Nilan.
The ruling by Justice Hadley overturns Byrnes' January decision.
Meredith Nilan, flanked by fellow Berkshire Young Professionals at a 'networking social' at Allium Bar in Great Barrington the evening of Dec. 8, 2011, just hours before an SUV driven by Ms. Nilan struck almost killing hospital administrator Peter Moore .
The appeal justice's ruling means that the matter is now returned to Pittsfield District Court where Ms. Nilan will formally be arraigned and charged with two misdemeanors: 'leaving the scene of a personal injury accident' and 'operating to endanger (negligence)'.
The Berkshire Eagle misreported this past Saturday (see below) in an article by Eagle reporter Andrew Amelinckx, headlined ‘No ruling yet on Nilan crash appeal’, that: “A Springfield judge has yet to make a ruling on the appeal of an alleged hit-and-run case involving the 24-year-old daughter of Berkshire Superior Court’s chief of probation.”
The Eagle went on to misreport that: “A decision was expected this week, but did not occur.”
In fact, Justice Hadley issued his ruling Friday at which time it was mailed to the Criminal Clerk at Pittsfield District Court for dissemination to all parties involved.<<<<<
The Berkshire Eagle's misreported story from this past Saturday:
No ruling yet on Nilan crash appeal
By Andrew Amelinckx, Berkshire Eagle Staff,
Saturday February 11, 2012
PITTSFIELD -- A Springfield judge has yet to make a ruling on the appeal of an alleged hit-and-run case involving the 24-year-old daughter of Berkshire Superior Court's chief of probation.
According to court officials, Springfield District Court Judge William P. Hadley has been reviewing the case against Meredith Nilan of Pittsfield for about three weeks. A decision was expected this week, but did not occur.
On Thursday, Hadley asked for further information on the case to be sent to him. It is unclear exactly what he requested.
Meredith Nilan was driving her father's car on Dec. 8 when she struck a 45-year-old Pittsfield man on Winesap Road, according to police.
Meredith Nilan's attorney, Timothy Shugrue, said his client wasn't sure what she had struck, got out of the car, looked for signs of an accident, but found none. She later returned to the scene with her father but again found nothing, according to Shugrue.
The collision left dents in the 2001 Subaru Forester's hood and a head-sized hole in the windshield.
Peter Moore, of McIntosh Drive, suffered several injuries, including a mild traumatic brain injury, a broken neck, a bruised colon, and a fractured calf bone. He is slowly recovering from his injuries, but has had to undergo surgery on his neck.
Pittsfield Police later obtained a search warrant to inspect the Nilan's car before filing the application for a criminal complaint that led to a show-cause hearing on Jan. 12 in Central Berkshire District Court. Show-cause hearings are held in front of a clerk magistrate to determine if enough probable cause exists to file a criminal charge.
Because of Nilan's father's position in the local court system, a clerk magistrate from Westfield was brought in to preside over the private hearing.
Following the 21 2-hour hearing, Clerk Magistrate Nathan A. Byrnes found "no probable cause" to charge Meredith Nilan with the two misdemeanors sought by police.
Moore's attorney, Michael R. Hinkley, told The Eagle that he and his client were not allowed to attend the show-cause hearing, and couldn't get information about what happened. Moore didn't testify, Hinkley said.
Under state law, a clerk magistrate can either close a show-cause hearing or open it to the public, and does not have to allow victims and their lawyers from being present.
Pittsfield Police appealed the clerk magistrate's decision not to charge Nilan with leaving the scene of a personal injury accident and negligent operation of a motor vehicle.
Hadley, who handles cases for Central Berkshire District Court when the potential for conflict of interest exists, can either dismiss the case based on the evidence he's reviewing, or schedule another court hearing, officials said.
Hinkley said he and Moore are evaluating their options with regard to a civil suit.<<<<<
Today's 'Catch-Up' article in The Berkshire Eagle posted today, Feb. 13, 2012 at 12:25:37 p.m. EST, nearly three hours after being 'scooped' by Berkshire Blog.
Nilan to face criminal charges from December accident
Posted: 02/13/2012 12:25:37 PM EST
Updated: 02/13/2012 12:37:26 PM EST
Monday February 13, 2012
PITTSFIELD -- A Springfield District Court judge has found probable cause to bring criminal charges against Meredith Nilan for a December accident that left a local man seriously injured.
Judge William P. Hadley, after reviewing the case against the 24-year-old Pittsfield woman, found that "while much of what is alleged here is circumstantial," there was enough evidence to allow the Pittsfield Police to charge the 24-year-old with two misdemeanors: leaving the scene of a personal injury accident and negligent operation of a motor vehicle.
Nilan will be arraigned Feb. 29 in Central Berkshire District Court. Nilan is the daughter of Clifford Nilan, the chief of probation at Berkshire Superior Court.
Meredith Nilan was driving her father's car the evening of Dec. 8 when she struck 45-year-old Peter Moore on Winesap Road as he walked his dog, according to police.
Moore, of McIntosh Drive, suffered several injuries, including a mild traumatic brain injury, a broken neck, a bruised colon, and a fractured calf bone. He is recovering from his injuries, but has had to undergo surgery on his neck.
Meredith Nilan's attorney, Timothy Shugrue, said she wasn't sure what she had struck and searched the area twice, once alone and later with her father. She found no evidence of what she hit, Shugrue said.
Pittsfield Police filed an application for a criminal complaint that led to a show-cause hearing last month to determine whether there was enough evidence to criminally charge Meredith Nilan.
A 2 1/2 hour private hearing was held on Jan. 12 in Central Berkshire District Court before Westfield Clerk Magistrate Nathan A. Byrnes. Byrnes determined there was "no probable cause" to charge Meredith Nilan with the two misdemeanors sought by police.
The Pittsfield Police appealed the clerk magistrate's decision. Hadley, in his decision, stated that the police "manifested serious dissatisfaction with the magistrate's decision."
Hadley went on to cite a 2002 case concerning the "low threshold" needed to prove reasonable cause, comparing it to the same standard a police officer would use in making an arrest.
Moore's attorney, Michael R. Hinkley, told The Eagle that he was not allowed to attend the show-cause hearing, and couldn't get information about what happened.
The judge's ruling was dated Friday, and it was released publicly on Monday morning.<<<<<
View the Springfield District Court judge's decision here: