'On the Road' court verdicts are now on the books

The New Hampshire Supreme Court has rendered decisions on two cases it heard at Souhegan High School in Amherst earlier this year.

In October, about 400 students from area high schools came to Souhegan for a Supreme Court On the Road event in which students and community members got to watch the five justices hear oral arguments in two real cases. Students also had question-and-answer sessions with the justices.

The opinions were released Nov. 21 and are available on the court’s Web site (www.courts. state.nh.us).

The On the Road program is designed to give students a close look at the appellate court and its work. This was the 10th such program the Supreme Court has held.

The first case involved a man, Graham Jensen, who attempted to pay a 50-cent highway toll in Rochester in 2006 with tokens after the state decided it would no longer accept them. Jensen refused to pay the toll and the subsequent fine and instead spent three days in jail.

Jensen asked the court to reverse “an unjust criminal conviction” for theft. His lawyer, Josh Gordon, argued the state unilaterally broke a “contract” when they discontinued the tokens.

However, the court ruled against Jensen, saying he should have brought a civil should have brought a civilcomplaint about the discontinuation of tokens instead of committing a criminal act.

The second case was about a student at Hanover High School who was convicted of being an accomplice in a scheme to steal a math exam. The defendant, Paul Formella, and two of his friends had agreed to act as “lookouts,” but felt uncomfortable with the task and left their posts as the other students were committing the crime.

The legal question the justices had to decide was whether Formella’s conviction should be overturned because he terminated his role in the crime.

The court affirmed Formella’s conviction because he did not tell the students committing the crime that he was withdrawing and also did not tell any adult the crime was occurring.