Debate on hats in court off or on?

The “Great Hat Spat” in Milford District Court continues to live online.

A libertarian Internet site has reported that Milford District Court seems to have loosened its rules following the conclusion of the February event, in which two Keene men were arrested for refusing to remove their hats, but the judge says otherwise.

Dave Ridley of New Hampshire, who runs a site called, posted a video recently in which he said the court has loosened the rules.

Milford District Court Judge Martha Crocker has allowed people to wear hats after they filed a motion asking for permission to do so “or something like that,” Ridley wrote.

Last week, however, after a reporter asked Crocker about Ridley’s video, the judge said the court’s rules and procedures have not changed since last winter. Crocker said people have always had the right to file motions to the court for any purpose.

Motions are simply requests of a judge. An example of a typical motion would be a request from a newspaper to allow cameras in the courtroom.

In a phone interview, Ridley said it hadn’t been clear to anyone that filing a motion to wear hats was an option until recently.

The Great Hat Spat concluded when Corey Moloney, 21, and Charles Gerlach, 19, were found guilty by Judge Paul Moore. After their trials, Moore followed the Milford police prosecutor’s recommendation to free them after the one day of time they already spent in custody.

The men were part of a libertarian group protesting for the release of Michael Barskey, 38, of 4 Martin St. in Derry, who was facing charges for failing to appear in court Jan. 15. Amherst police arrested Barskey on Jan. 2 on charges he was carrying a loaded handgun without a license and transporting a bottle of beer with a broken seal in his car.

The hat spat wasn’t the only notable run-in the libertarians have had with Milford District Court.

In 2007, Lauren Canario who made headlines for protesting the police’s right to ask for license and registration during a motor vehicle stop.

Canario, then 50, of 161 Old Ashuelot Road in Winchester, was pulled over for speeding on Route 101A on Oct. 3, 2007, at 12:12 a.m. She told Milford police officer George Durham she had no license and registration and refused to identify herself. Then she flopped like a rag doll when police attempted to remove her from the car.

She was charged with disobeying a police officer, resisting arrest, driving after suspension. Her husband, Jim Johnson, captured the incident on a camcorder and posted the footage online.

She refused to appear in court and then spent just over a month in jail.

See the video at milford court tries restitution loosens