Scarborough’s case against town critic dismissed

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PORTLAND — A criminal case brought by the town of Scarborough against a Falmouth resident who was arrested at a Scarborough Town Council meeting last November has been dismissed.

Michael Doyle, 69, of Falmouth, was arrested and charged with a misdemeanor count of criminal trespass for refusing to leave the meeting after his time in a public comment period had expired.

In a recorded video of the meeting, Doyle began by ridiculing the town’s bid for an Amazon headquarters at Scarborough Downs. He then suggested Town Manager Thomas Hall left his previous job in Rockland under suspicious circumstances. Doyle was interrupted by then-council Chairman Shawn Babine and former Councilor William Donovan when he began to criticize Hall.

When Doyle protested and said he still has time to speak, he was asked to leave the council chamber by Babine. Doyle then sat down, but Scarborough Police Officer Mary Pearson asked him to stand; she handcuffed his wrists and led him from the chamber.

Doyle pleaded not guilty to the charge in January and filed a motion to dismiss the case.

At a hearing April 18, Superior Court Justice Andrew Horton dismissed the case with no objection from the state. No representatives from the town were present to argue against the ruling. The case, which was handled by Assistant District Attorney William Barry, was dismissed with prejudice, meaning it cannot be filed again.

Scarbrough’s attorney, Mark Franco, on Wednesday said he was not notified of the hearing date and has filed a motion to reconsider the case. He said he was in the process of drafting a response to Doyle’s motion to dismiss when he learned the case had been dismissed.

Doyle, a frequent critic of town government, claimed he was illegally instructed to leave a public meeting. He said questioning the town manager’s previous job did not constitute disorderly conduct, and his removal from the meeting violated the First Amendment.

On Monday, Doyle said he did not want to discuss the outcome of the case, but did say that political speech cannot be censored.

Tamara Getchell, spokeswoman for the Cumberland County District Attorney’s Office, on April 23 said her office was not required to notify the town’s attorney.

Juliette Laaka can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106, at jlaaka@theforecaster.net, or on Twitter @JulietteLaaka.

Updated April 25, 2018, with response from Scarborough’s attorney.

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