Pumpkin Fest founder to speak in Laconia on Thursday

LACONIA — Nancy Sporborg, the author, presenter and professional motivator who founded the Pumpkin Festival, will share her appreciation and understanding of pumpkins and lend her hand to underwriting the festival by speaking this week at the Grace Capital Church.

Sporborg's program, "Passing the Torch," includes photographs and music and mimics the style of her well-known "It's Not About The Hike" presentation. She will be speaking on crutches after breaking a leg while hiking in the White Mountains.

The goal for the evening is to raise $20,000. There are 100 seats available at $100 per person and another 200 seats for a donation of $50. For reservations contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Sex Assault Charge Dropped to Misdemeanor, Romanian man faces November trial

LACONIA — A sexual assault charge against a Romanian man was reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor when he was arraigned Monday in Laconia Circuit Court.
Miklos Szekely, 23, is now slated to stand trial on that charge in the Laconia court on November 9 at 1 p.m.
Laconia Police Department prosecutor James Sawyer aid that Szekely was originally arrested on a charge of aggravated felonious sexual assault of an 18-year-old female acquaintance during the evening hours of September 28 at his residence at 12 Maple Street in the Weirs. The charge was reduced to a misdemeanor sexual assault complaint of forced fondling when Szekely was arraigned by video Monday.
Sawyer, who said the defendant was booked to leave the country on a flight Monday night, sought to have Judge James Carroll order him to turn over his passport and set cash bail at $1,000.
But Public Defender Jesse Friedman sought to have the $6,000 cash bail reduced to personal recognizance bail so that the defendant could fly home to enroll in a master's degree program in agriculture. Friedman maintained that Szekely was not a flight risk and was an honor student who has stayed with the same family for the last three summers and had worked at a cottage colony and restaurant in the area.
Judge Carroll set cash bail of $6,000 but did not require the defendant to turn over his passport. He also ordered that the defendant have no contact with the alleged victim and that he stay away from the restaurant where she is employed.
An affidavit filed with the court says that Szekely used physical force during the incident after the victim had said that she would not consent and that he had placed his hand on her vagina and her breast and had prevented her from leaving the room when she attempted to do so.
Szekely, who was arranging for bail late Monday afternoon, was scheduled to fly to Romania later in the day. His name was no longer listed Tuesday on the Belknap County House of Corrections website as a detainee.

Judge Carroll honored for potecting free speech

MANCHESTER — Judge James Carroll of the fourth Circuit Court, Laconia Division, who dismissed charges against two citizens who were arrested while speaking at public meetings, has been honored with a Quill & Ink Award by the Nackey S. Loeb School of Communications for his staunch defense of the right to freedom of speech.

"It is an honor," Carroll said yesterday, "and I'm humbled by it. But, I was just doing my job. I'm pleased to accept the award on the part of every judge who are doing their jobs."

Police removed William Baer from a meeting of the Gilford School Board when, after challenging a teacher's decision to assign ninth grade students a book he deemed inappropriate, he continued speaking after being ruled out of order. Baer was charged with two counts of breaching the peace and one count of disobeying a police officer.

In dismissing the charges, Carroll described Baer's behavior as "impolite but not criminal." The case, he wrote offers "an excellent civics lesson, a perfect case for modeling free speech guarantees." Baer's arrest, the judge ruled "cause pause by the court as to the chilling, if not silencing, of a citizen by the state for actions which do not warrant a criminal arrest or conviction."

In Alton, Jeffrey Clay began claiming that the Board of Selectmen regularly flouted the Right-to-Know law in December 2013 and obeyed when asked to leave a meeting a year later. In January 2015, the selectmen adopted rules for for members of the public to follow when commenting at meetings. A month later, when Clay repeated his charges against the selectboard, he was ruled out of order and when he continued to speak was removed from the room, placed under arrest and charged with disorderly conduct by the police.

In dismissing the charges against Clay, Carroll found that "the silencing is nothing less than censorship of the defendant's criticism given at a time and place designated by the board itself for public input.." Furthermore, the judge noted that Clay "was acting within the very rules promulgated by the board as well as within his constitutional rights."

Carroll said it was "unusual" for a district court judge to have an opportunity to rule on a constitutional issue, let alone "to have lightning strike twice in the same place." He said that in both cases he considered the circumstances of the defendants before the court and the interests of the state and wrote orders protecting the right of individuals to speak freely before public bodies.

Carroll said that while his orders addressed the two particular cases before the court, he expected "they would have some deterrent effect. We need to ensure that our constitutional rights are kept alive and well."

Carroll was appointed to the bench by Governor John Lynch in January, 2011, during his second term as Belknap County Attorney. A 1969 graduate of the College of the Holy Cross, he received his law degree from Franklin Pierce Law Center in 1987. Long a mainstay of the local community, Carroll has been honored with its highest awards for community service the Norman Marsh Award for Leadership and the James R. Irwin Award of the Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce for Community Service.

The award will be presented at the 13th annual First Amendment Awards ceremony at the Capitol Center for the Arts in Concord on Thursday, November 12, at which Chris Matthews, the host of "Hardball" on MSNBC, will be the keynote speaker.