Trial set in dispute between selectman, ex-selectman

MERRIMACK – Former selectman Norman Carr and current Selectman David McCray will finally have their day in court.

A two-day trial is scheduled for Dec. 13 and 14 in the ongoing legal dispute between Carr and McCray. The trial will take place in Hillsborough County Superior Court in Nashua.

In his suit, Carr alleges McCray illegally divulged information from a nonpublic meeting in 2003 when both were members of the Board of Selectmen.

McCray and Carr both expressed relief that the issue might finally be coming to a resolution.

“I’m glad to see the end is coming,” McCray said. “I’m glad the public will be able to see I did nothing wrong, and I acted in the best interest of the town of Merrimack. It will be done publicly, as all public business should be handled.”

Carr said he was delighted that a trial has been scheduled.

“I’m so pleased. It looks like finally I’m going to have my day in court,” Carr said.

Carr said he’s had to “keep my mouth shut” for months now, and he’s looking forward to having the matter aired at last.

Asked if he planned to testify, Carr responded, “We haven’t made any final plans, my attorney and I.”

However, Carr said his case could include extensive testimony from himself and others.He also thinks the case could put the state’s Right to Know law to the test, and the outcome might have ramifications for the entire state. There isn’t a lot of precedent that applies to this case, the former selectman said.

Carr is asking the court to remove McCray from office, arguing he violated state law when he released a chart depicting information on how a town employee’s pension plan was calculated. McCray’s attorneys have argued the chart was hypothetical and did not pertain to a specific employee.

If the court doesn’t remove McCray, Carr’s suit asks that it impose an injunction prohibiting McCray from divulging nonpublic information in the future.

Carr has said he’s pursuing the action on principle because he believes McCray should be punished for breaking the law.

The issue is the last legal battle remaining between the two adversaries. In May, Judge Gary Hicks dismissed Carr’s case against the town in the matter, but left the door open for Carr to continue his suit against McCray.

Hicks also cited the McCray incident several times in another legal matter, a lawsuit Assistant Town Manager Betty Spence brought against the town concerning her pension. Hicks ruled in Spence’s favor in early August and later ordered the town to pay her more than $112,000.

Hicks’ rulings so concerned McCray that his attorneys in late August asked the judge to step down in the Carr lawsuit, according to court records. McCray cited “a personal and abiding belief” that it would be hard for Hicks “to remain fair and impartial on the issues of this case,” court records show.

In denying McCray’s request, Hicks wrote that “a reasonable person, fully informed of the facts, would not question” the judge’s impartiality. He also wrote that the other cases do not show a “ ‘deep-seated favoritism or antagonism’ that would make a fair judgment impossible.”

Carr left the board last April after he opted not to seek reelection. McCray’s seat is up for re-election in April of 2005.