Argued: March 3, 2016
J. Saffo, county attorney, on the brief, for the Grafton
County Attorney's Office.
Lobel Tye LLP, of Boston, Massachusetts (Robert A. Bertsche
on the brief and orally), for Elizabeth Canner.
DesMeules, Olmstead & Ostler, of Norwich, Vermont (George
H. Ostler on the brief, and Cabot R. Teachout orally), for
Gallagher, Callahan & Gartrell, P.C., of Concord (Charles
P. Bauer on the memorandum of law), for Town of
Hanover/Hanover Police Department.
Doe appeals an order of the Superior Court (MacLeod,
J.) ruling in favor of Elizabeth Canner. Canner requested,
under the New Hampshire Right-to-Know Law, RSA chapter 91-A
(2013 & Supp. 2015), access to records relating to
Doe's arrest and prosecution. Prior to the filing of
Canner's Right-to-Know requests, Doe had filed a petition
for annulment under RSA 651:5 (2016). While Canner's
request was pending, Doe's annulment petition was
granted. The trial court concluded that, notwithstanding the
fact that Doe's petition for annulment had been granted,
records relating to Doe's arrest and prosecution are not
categorically exempt from public inspection under the
Right-to-Know Law. We affirm and remand for further
proceedings consistent with this opinion.
case presents an issue of first impression in New Hampshire:
Whether records maintained by arresting and prosecuting
agencies pertaining to an annulled arrest and the related
prosecution are categorically exempt from public inspection
under the Right-to-Know Law. Resolution of this case requires
us to interpret several statutory provisions, including
certain provisions of the Right-to-Know Law. "The
ordinary rules of statutory construction apply to our review
of the Right-to-Know Law." CaremarkPCS Health v.
N.H. Dep't of Admin. Servs., 167 N.H. 583, 587
(2015) (quotation omitted). Thus, we are the final arbiter of
the legislature's intent as expressed in the words of the
statute considered as a whole. Id. When examining
the language of a statute, we ascribe the plain and ordinary
meaning to the words used. Id. We interpret
legislative intent from the statute as written and will not
consider what the legislature might have said or add language
that the legislature did not see fit to include. Id.
We also interpret a statute in the context of the overall
statutory scheme and not in isolation. Id.
ultimate goal in construing the Right-to-Know Law is to
further the statutory and constitutional objectives of
increasing public access to all public documents and
governmental proceedings and to provide the utmost
information to the public about what its government is up
to." Prof'l Firefighters of N.H. v. Local
Gov't Ctr., 159 N.H. 699, 705 (2010) (quotation and
citation omitted); see also N.H. CONST. pt. I, art.
8. "Thus, we construe provisions favoring disclosure
broadly, while construing exemptions narrowly."
Prof'l Firefighters of N.H., 159 N.H. at 707
(quotation omitted). The party arguing for nondisclosure has
the burden of proof. See id.
91-A:4, I (2013), in relevant part, states:
Every citizen during the regular or business hours of all
public bodies or agencies, and on the regular business
premises of such public bodies or agencies, has the right to
inspect all governmental records in the possession, custody,
or control of such public bodies or agencies, . . .
except as otherwise prohibited by statute or RSA
added.) Doe argues that the records relating to his arrest
and prosecution are exempt from public inspection under RSA
91-A:4, I, because the ...