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Ruais Decries Decision to Release Manchester Shooters on Personal Recognizance

Two men arrested for their alleged involvement in a Manchester shooting this week are back on the streets, thanks to New Hampshire’s PR bail system. 

A PR bond, or personal recognizance bond, is a type of bail bond that allows a defendant to be released from custody without paying any money upfront. Instead, the defendant must promise to appear in court for all scheduled appearances. The defendant’s word is essentially their bail bond.

It is another example of the failed bail reform that is making cities like Manchester unsafe because violent criminals aren’t going to jail, said Jay Ruais, the sole Republican candidate for mayor.

“This incident highlights the massive problem Manchester is facing right now. Every day, our police officers heroically perform their duty, and before the ink is dry on the paperwork, violent offenders are released back out onto our streets.” Ruais said. “The status quo in the city of Manchester cannot, and must not continue. This makes our city less safe and creates a system that encourages criminal activity and behavior.”

Brandon Middaugh, 32, and Justin Middaugh, 30, were arrested this week after an Ash Street shooting sent a man to the hospital. A Police SWAT team responded to a report of a fight, and officers found a man with a gunshot wound in his leg outside.

Brandon Middaugh

Justin Middaugh

The Middaughs were both later charged with simple assault and released. Justin Middaugh’s criminal history includes leading police on a high-speed chase and fighting with officers who eventually arrested him for drunk driving

Last year in Manchester, 75-year-old Daniel Whitmore was stabbed and killed by homeless man Raymond Moore, 40. Moore was out on bail for assault at the time of the stabbing.

And in June, a man threatened Dollar Tree employees with a box cutter during a shoplifting attempt. Manchester police arrested the man, who had recently been released on bail.

It is past time for the bail system to be fixed, Ruais said, vowing to fight to make sure that happens.

“For the safety and security of our city, the next mayor must fight to fix our broken bail system to keep criminals off our streets. I am the only candidate in the race demanding a fix to our broken bail system to keep dangerous criminals off our streets,” Ruais said. “Our jails cannot be a revolving door for violent criminals. It is past time for our city’s leadership to step up and fight for a fix to the broken bail system that is devastating Manchester families and businesses.”

Ruais is the only candidate running for mayor who has made bail reform a major campaign issue. Democrats like Will Stewart and June Trisciani have been focusing on issues like housing and education and largely avoided talking about bail reform at the recent mayoral candidate forum. 

Democrat Kevin Cavanaugh, who supported the 2018 bail reform bill that critics like Ruais say has failed, blamed Republicans in Concord for not fixing the problem.

“We have to get violent people off the street,” Cavanaugh said at the forum. “The Republicans have the power in Concord to do that, and for the past two years, they wouldn’t do it.”

Efforts to scale back the 2018 bail reform law were shot down this year by a coalition of Free State-aligned Republicans and progressive Democrats. The New Hampshire American Civil Liberties Union pushed hard against any proposal to keep criminals in jail.

The NH ACLU claims the 2018 bail reform has not made communities unsafe and has helped keep poor people from being treated unjustly.

“Until bail reform in 2018, thousands of Granite Staters were incarcerated pre-trial each year not because they were a danger to their community, but simply because they could not afford to pay their bail,” Frank Knaack, the NH ACLU’s policy director wrote. 

Long Recovery for Woman Shot by Ex After Judge Denies Restraining Order

Lindsay Smith hopes to one day be a voice for gun safety and women, but right now she is relearning how to walk after a gunshot put her in a coma. 

Just weeks after being denied a restraining order by 10th Circuit Court Judge Polly Hall, Smith, 34, was shot in the head by her ex, 55-year-old Richard Lorman of Wilton, N.H. Hall’s failure to protect Lindsay still angers her mother, Cindy Smith.

“If that judge would have awarded a restraining order, (Lorman) wouldn’t have been able to buy a gun, which he did days before the shooting,” Cindy Smith said.

Lorman killed himself shortly after shooting Lindsay Smith.

Lindsay Smith had been recovering slowly from her head wound but took a turn for the worse this fall. She ended up back in the hospital and suffered a stroke from blood loss.

“She’d had a setback. She’s had infection after infestation and she has to relearn how to walk,” Cindy Smith said. “We’re blessed that intellectually she has decent capabilities.”

In August, 2021, Lindsay Smith had sought a protective order in August in the 10th Circuit Court – Hampton Family Division, and obtained a temporary one in September, according to the New Hampshire Judiciary Internal Review Committee’s initial report. However, Hall denied the permanent order Smith sought on Oct. 20 for lack of a “credible, present threat.”

Lindsay Smith told Hall about months of threats from Lorman, while he stalked and harassed her. He also harassed her family members and her coworkers.

“Everything you hold dear, I will f–k it up. You can’t trust anything to be okay anymore. I am going to turn your world upside down. You’ll see. You’ll pay. You chose this,” Lorman said, according to the committee report.

After the restraining order was denied, Lorman, bought a gun and on Nov. 15, 2021, went to Lindsay Smith’s place of employment in Massachusetts. He waited for her to leave the building and shot her in the head.

The Internal Review Committee ultimately cleared Hall of failing Lindsay Smith, finding that Hall was limited in what she could do for Lindsay Smith, in part, based on New Hampshire law and its outdated definitions of abuse. 

Cindy Smith feels the committee report was a coverup to continue protecting judges from consequences.

“I wasn’t surprised. It’s unfathomable to me that judges don’t ever have to be held accountable,” Lindsay Smith said.

The review was led by Circuit Court Judge Susan Carbon, former director of the Office on Violence Against Women at the U.S. Department of Justice. Hall told the committee she declined to issue the restraining order because of the absence of any act of physical violence by the defendant since 2016, her understanding that Lorman’s threats were mainly related to “blackmail” and reputational or emotional harm, and because Smith didn’t express fear of a specific physical threat.

“In the absence of a recent act of violence or what she understood as an explicit threat of violence, she felt constrained by case law to find as she did,” according to the committee’s report.

Destinie Berard has been dealing with Hall for years in her own domestic violence case. She said Hall’s orders never protect victims, and New Hampshire never holds judges accountable.

“What the judge did is completely out of control,” Berard said. “When a judge does something, they almost always point you in circles.

New Hampshire judges are subject to a performance review once every three years by the Judicial Conduct Committee, whose 11 members are appointed by the New Hampshire Supreme Court, the Governor, the Speaker of the House, the Senate President, and the New Hampshire Bar Association.

Judges typically have advance notice of an upcoming review. Absent a sustained criminal charge, the results of an individual judge’s review are typically not made public.

The committee’s annual report for 2021, the most recent available, states 72 new complaints filed against judges in 2021, the vast majority of which were investigated and dismissed by the committee.

Cindy Smith said New Hampshire needs to change the way it oversees judges.

“I would like Judge Polly Hall to be held accountable for negligence,” Cindy Smith said.

 Now, Lindsay Smith is home again from the hospital and recovering. Berard started a Go Fund Me campaign to help the Smith family with her medical expenses. Berard hopes Lindsay Smith recovers, and that judges can no longer hide behind immunity when they make near-fatal errors.

“Somebody needs to be held accountable,” Berard said. “Lindsay’s life is completely shattered.”