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February 6, 2008

Hit and Run, Part Three
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 03:51 PM *

Do you recall the story of Paul Corriveau, badly injured in a hit-and-run accident a bit over a year ago?

I posted about it before in Hit and Run (02DEC06) and Hit and Run, Redux (19JAN07).

I was on the scene of that accident. The man had truly frightening injuries.

Now there’s been a development:

Police Arrest Groveton Man for 2006 Hit-and-Run Accident

By Claire Lynch

N.H. State Police have arrested the alleged driver in a November, 2006 hit-and-run that occurred on Route 3 in Columbia and left a Berlin man seriously injured.

Paul Fortin, 43, of Groveton and formerly of Stratford, was arraigned by video on Monday, February 4 on a felony charge of conduct after an accident. He is currently being held in the Coös County House of Corrections in Stewartstown in lieu of $25,000 cash bail, and a probable cause hearing is set for February 14 in Colebrook District Court.

According to Sgt. Bret Beausoleil, the driver’s side mirror and parts of the front bumper left at the scene were identifed as coming from a Jeep Grand Cherokee manufactured between 1993 and 1998. Many car dealerships in Coös County were checked, he said, but based on information that surfaced recently, Trooper Charles Boutot traced the vehicle to Dan’s Auto Sales in Lancaster. Police reportedly learned that the vehicle was sold to Mr. Fortin and bore 20-day plates at the time of the accident.

The victim, Paul Corriveau, now 70, suffered from severe head and leg injuries, and Sgt. Beausoleil believes he is a resident in the care of Granite State Guardianship. Mr. Corriveau was released from Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in April of 2007, five months after the accident.

On the evening of November 16, 2006, Mr. Corriveau was walking south in the northbound lane of Route 3 when he was hit, at about 5:45 p.m. At the time, darkness had fallen and it was raining, police said. Police had received complaints that evening of a pedestrian whom several vehicles swerved around.

Earlier that day, Mr. Corriveau had been released from the county jail in Stewartstown and had not secured transportation home, police said. He got a ride from a passing motorist and was dropped off in Columbia, near the intersection with Meridan Hill Road. The collision occurred about one mile further south, within a few feet of the Stratford town line.

Comments on Hit and Run, Part Three:
#1 ::: Madeleine Robins ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2008, 04:33 PM:

Side question, but: arraigned by video?

#2 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2008, 04:44 PM:

They have a video hookup at the jail, eight miles of narrow, slippery road from the courthouse (or forty-four miles, depending on whether it was the local courthouse or the county courthouse). The arraignment probably only took a couple of minutes; not worth putting the guy in leg irons, putting him in a car, driving him down, then driving him back.

#3 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2008, 05:23 PM:

Video arraignment* is becoming more common. The inmate goes to a room with videoconference hookup at the jail, their attorney is in the courtroom with the judge and the prosecution, and people are arraigned. It's cheaper all around, less security risk with violent offenders, and things move pretty speedily.

During holiday break a few years ago I took my nephew to watch arraignments at the state courthouse. I was looking forward to him seeing the guys in orange jumpsuits and manacles. Alas, it is almost all by video these days. He's a good kid, but I like to do my part to keep him on the "not going to jail" path.

*I have one friend who is a court clerk and another is a court recorder. After the excursion with the nephew I asked both of them about the video arraigments, and they told me all about it. More than I wanted to know. They really like it.

#4 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2008, 05:45 PM:

Tania @ 3... people are arraigned

For a moment I had this vision of people being turned into Peter Parker mutants, what with the French word for spider being araignée...

#5 ::: paul ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2008, 07:11 PM:

So the guy had just been released from the lockup, was making his way home in the rainy dark, gets hit by a hit-and-run driver, and then spends 5 months in the hospital? If he got out early for good behavior, I expect he wishes he had never bothered.

#6 ::: Phil Palmer ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2008, 07:18 PM:

Isn't the problem with video arraignment that you can't see that the prisoner hasn't been bashed? (Extra negatives added for courtesy.) Though I suppose if you don't have habeas corpus any more that isn't an issue.

#7 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2008, 11:11 PM:

Phil, it's live video. The prisoner is shown live. Habeas corpus is for the trial.

#8 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2008, 01:27 AM:

I'd be cautious about video, too. Put crudely, you don't see the guy off-camera pointing a shotgun at the prisoner. Having a representative of the court, who is not a gaoler, physically present at the other end of the link, is arguably a necessity.

What contact do the lawyers have with the prisoner before the hearing?

Remember, some of the people who were tried for Abu Graibh were professional prison guards: they didn't just call into question the reputation of the US Army.

This has to be done right, and the checks have to be visible.


#9 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2008, 09:13 AM:

Why would anyone bother holding an off-camera shotgun on the defendant? The arraignment is when the judge reads the defendant the charges against him and tells him when the trial date is.

The defendant should have contact with lawyers immediately from the moment of his arrest, as in "I want to call my lawyer."

#10 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2008, 10:35 AM:

I'm not excusing the "run" aspect of the hit-and-run, but the guy was walking in an actual traffic lane, against oncoming traffic, in the rain, in the dark?

This is not smart, and I don't quite see how it works out to be the driver's fault. (Running, of course, was wrong, wrong, wrong.)

#11 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2008, 10:45 AM:

"Against oncoming traffic" is the usual for a pedestrian (on the side of the road, please!). That way, the pedestrian is better able to see approaching hazards.

#12 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2008, 10:47 AM:

Joel: sure, but actually in the road, in a traffic lane??? Sounds like he walked into the car as much as the car drove into him.

#13 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2008, 10:56 AM:

Susan, the guy was charged for his conduct after the accident. You can't just drive off after you hit someone, even if they literally jump out in front of you.

From my IANAL reading of the article, it sounds like he wouldn't have been charged with anything had he stopped and at least waited for the authorities (in some states he'd be required to render assistance to the extent possible, but I don't know about NH).

#14 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2008, 11:03 AM:

Xopher:
That's why I said:
I'm not excusing the "run" aspect of the hit-and-run,

and

(Running, of course, was wrong, wrong, wrong.)

But I don't think the driver being a sleaze precludes the pedestrian from being an idiot, which is what I was commenting on.

#15 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2008, 11:09 AM:

Susan: oh, quite. Was anyone blaming the driver for hitting the guy? I didn't see that anywhere.

#16 ::: Tom Courtney ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2008, 12:36 PM:

I would have to see the site before proclaiming the pedestrian an idiot. I walked in the country a lot when I was a kid - and there were plenty of places where "in the lane of traffic" was the only real option. A raised roadbed with a sharp drop-off into aggressive undergrowth is one example that would force country strollers into the roadway.

#17 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2008, 12:57 PM:

I would have to see the site before proclaiming the pedestrian an idiot.

I'll get you photos of the site after the snow melts.

It's fairly open terrain. No streetlights. No nearby houses.

#18 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2008, 01:03 PM:

Tom 16: According to the article, "[p]olice had received complaints that evening of a pedestrian whom several vehicles swerved around" prior to the accident. If he'd been in a reasonable position, assuming the road is legal for pedestrians to walk on at all, I don't think the drivers would have called the police to report him.

It sounds like he was walking down the middle of the lane, an impression bolstered by the wording 'walking south in the northbound lane'. I don't think the writer would have phrased it that way if the victim had been in a reasonable position with respect to traffic.

#19 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2008, 01:08 PM:

Here's the scene in Google Maps.

The building to the east on the U-shaped driveway is an ice-cream-and-hot-dog stand that's open for the tourists in the summer.

#20 ::: Sylvia Li ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2008, 01:11 PM:

Also, in every hit and run case, you wonder why the driver drove off. Maybe he was freaked out by the extent of the guy's injuries -- which even EMT Jim Macdonald calls truly frightening, so I imagine they would be an enormous mental shock to most people. Then again, maybe he was very drunk, or high on illegal drugs. or he had something in his car he couldn't let police see.

#21 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2008, 01:25 PM:

The person who called the accident in did so from here, at the Blue Mountain Variety Store, corner of US 3 and White Road. That was the first place she saw with lights on where she could make a call.

That's around five miles.

#22 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2008, 01:59 PM:

Jim, while the arraignment is a pretty trivial piece of legal process, the physical presence of the accused before the judge is one safeguard against abusive treatment, The courtroom is not under the control of the prison guards.

Working over a video link risks throwing away those safeguards.

#23 ::: broundy ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2008, 03:01 PM:

I would have to see the site before proclaiming the pedestrian an idiot.

The article notes that the victim is "a resident in the care of Granite State Guardianship" - an organization that cares for the mentally ill.

#24 ::: Phil Palmer ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2008, 03:27 PM:

James, #9:
>> Why would anyone bother holding an off-camera shotgun on the defendant?

Or watering-can, or whatever. I don't know why and it shouldn't be my obligation to guess. The obligation is on the process to ensure openness. Video closes it off.

>>The arraignment is when the judge reads the defendant the charges against him and tells him when the trial date is.

It's not just there to be a bureaucratic hassle for the judge. One principle of habeas corpus is that the accused is presented in court and is shown not to have been "disappeared".

>>The defendant should have contact with lawyers immediately from the moment of his arrest, as in "I want to call my lawyer."

All sorts of things "should" happen. Usually they do. But your argument, taken ad absurdum, would imply that the criminal justice system be abolished because there are redundancies in it. Few safeguards are effective by themselves; a stream of executions in Texas should be enough to shake your confidence in sober and competent lawyers.

#25 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2008, 03:42 PM:

Be that as it might, you'd have been taking your life in your hands to drive anywhere around here last Monday.

#26 ::: Lisa B. ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2008, 08:27 PM:

It was hard for them to find his family because they disowned him. My mom told me Paul Corriveau is my grand-uncle, and he stole from every member of our family. While I do agree that no one deserves to be hit by a car, and no one should ever ever ever hit and run, it is very likely that he was under the influence, hence being in the road...
Sorry if this upsets anyone.

#27 ::: Ron Sullivan ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2008, 01:40 AM:

#23: The article notes that the victim is "a resident in the care of Granite State Guardianship" - an organization that cares for the mentally ill.

"Is," not "was." Severe head injuries. Ain't none of us invulnerable.

Of course, that includes those without severe apparent head injuries.

#28 ::: fermion ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2008, 08:29 PM:

The person who called the accident in did so from here, at the Blue Mountain Variety Store, corner of US 3 and White Road. That was the first place she saw with lights on where she could make a call.

That's around five miles.

This raises a question in my mind: if I were to inadvertently hit a pedestrian, would I be risking charges if I left the scene to go get help? It seems like that would be a silly way to run things, but then again, the law can be counterintuitive.

#29 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2008, 10:10 AM:

Susan @ #12

It very much depends on the road. While all paved roads where I grew up had clearly designated pedestrian areas (either a sidewalk or an actual separate pedestrian / bicycle road), once you left the paved areas for the joys of gravel roads, you were looking at roads with no visible markings and a ditch right off the side. Some places there were even signs warning about UXB (yah, grew up not too far from what used to be a target range for artillery regiments, I believe it's now all cleared), so you stayed on the road, if you valued your life.

Of course, most drivers on those roads knew that they were likely to have pedestrians on the road and I believe there were on average tens, maybe hundreds of pedestrians for each car.

#30 ::: Carl ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2008, 07:50 PM:

I can't speak for other places in the country, but here in Rainy San Diego, the camera at the facility at the jail where video arraignments are done is fairly wide-angle (with the potential for zooms if the judge needs it), so the potential for aggressive interference with prisoners is fairly low. Also, the facility is under the jurisdiction of the court, not the jail, and is run by court personnel, which also lessens the potential for coercion.

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