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State v. Kendrick

Superior Court of Maine, Cumberland

July 7, 2017

STATE OF MAINE
v.
HEIDI KENDRICK, MARTHA MURDICK and ELIZABETH STOTHART

          ORDER ON DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS

          A. M. Horton, Justice.

         These three consolidated civil violation cases are before the court for decision on the Motion to Dismiss filed by the Defendant in each case ["combined Motion to Dismiss''].

         The Defendants are alleged to have violated the Maine statute on unlawful removal of temporary signs in a public right-of-way, 23 M.R.S. § 1917-B.

         Defendants do not dispute that they removed the signs that the State says they did. The Defendants' combined Motion to Dismiss is based solely on the undisputed content of the removed signs. Defendants say that the statute they are accused of violating, 23 M.R.S. § 1917-B, prohibits the removal of signs that meet certain criteria, and that, because the signs they removed do not meet those criteria, they are entitled as a matter of law to have the charges against them dismissed.

         The State responds by saying that Maine law prohibits anyone except the Commissioner of Transportation (or the Commissioner's designee) from removing signs from a public way; that the legislative history of section 1917-B supports the State's position, and that the Defendant's interpretation would create an absurd result.

         Undisputed Facts

         Defendants are accused of removing a number of political signs along the public right-of-way on Route 1 in Falmouth shortly before midnight October 14, 2016, in violation of 23 M.R.S. § 1917-B.

         The parties have stipulated that all of the signs at issue were identical in appearance and wording to the sign admitted as State's Exhibit A. State's Exhibit A is a double-sided plastic sign that can be slid onto a steel frame with two legs that can be inserted into the earth. The two sides of the sign are identical, and contain large and small type. The large type reads as follows:

         (Image Omitted)

         At the bottom of the sign, a much smaller line of type in the center of the sign reads as follows:

POL. ADV. PAID FOR BY MAKING MAINE GREAT AGAIN PAC, JULIE SHEEHAN TREASURER. NOTICE: IT IS A VIOLATION OF STATE LAW (CHAPTERS 392 AND 393, TRANSPORTATION CODE) TO PLACE THIS SIGN IN THE RIGHT-OF-WAY OF A HIGHWAY.

         At each of the lower corners of the sign admitted as Exhibit A, other small type identifies the manufacturer of the sign and identifies the sign as being made of recycled material.

         Although the sign admitted as Exhibit A identifies the Making Maine Great Again PAC as having paid for the sign, it does not state whether that organization placed the sign in the public right-of-way, and does not contain any address for that organization. It also does not designate the time ...


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