Kozerski v. Steere, 80-454

Decision Date10 June 1981
Docket NumberNo. 80-454,80-454
Citation433 A.2d 1244,121 N.H. 469
PartiesCazmis KOZERSKI v. Myron J. STEERE III et al.
CourtNew Hampshire Supreme Court

Cazmis Kozerski by brief pro se.

Michael P. Bentley, Keene, for defendants, waived brief and oral argument.

PER CURIAM.

The issue in this case is whether the defendants, selectmen of Swanzey, improperly refused under New Hampshire law to renew the plaintiff's license to carry a loaded pistol because the plaintiff had a prior felony conviction.

The plaintiff was convicted of a felony in another state in May 1969. After a period of confinement and parole, he was discharged. In June 1976, the plaintiff moved to Swanzey in this State, and in August 1976 was sworn in as a police officer of the town. He served in that capacity until September 1980, when he was notified that his appointment was revoked.

In September 1976, and again in October 1978, the plaintiff obtained a license to carry a pistol from the town selectmen. In September 1980, he applied to renew the license, but the selectmen denied his application on the basis of "information on the application submitted to us that had not been available to the selectmen previously."

The plaintiff petitioned the Keene District Court pursuant to RSA 159:6-c (Supp.1979) to determine whether he was entitled to have his license to carry a pistol renewed. After a hearing, the Court (Davis, J.) upheld the decision of the selectmen. In doing so, the court made the following findings of fact:

"1. That ... the plaintiff's character and conduct in New Hampshire have been exemplary and above reproach; that if it were not for the felony conviction plaintiff would be entitled to a pistol permit.

2. The sole ground for refusal of a permit by the Selectmen is (that) 'a felon is not a suitable person to have a pistol permit ....' "

The court's stated reasons for its decision were that the court could not substitute its judgment for that of the selectmen, who did not act unreasonably or capriciously; that RSA ch. 159 is so vague that the court could not determine whether anyone convicted of a felony is automatically barred by the statute from obtaining a pistol permit; and that there are no "ground rules" to guide the court in determining whether an individual is entitled to a permit. From that decision of the district court, the plaintiff appealed.

RSA 159:6 (Supp.1979) provides in relevant part that the selectmen of a town, upon application of any resident of the town, "shall issue a license to such applicant authorizing him to carry a loaded pistol or revolver ... if it appears that the applicant has good reason to fear injury to his person or property or has any proper purpose, and that he is a suitable person to be licensed." RSA 159:6-c (Supp.1979) provides that "(a)ny person whose application for a license to carry a loaded pistol or revolver has been denied pursuant to RSA 159:6" may appeal to the district court. That section of the statute also requires the court to conduct a hearing within fourteen days and to issue a decision within fourteen days after the hearing.

We must first consider the standard of review in RSA 159:6-c (Supp.1979) appeals. Although the district court did not believe that the statute allows the court to substitute its judgment for that of the selectmen, we think that it does. Unlike many other appeal statutes, e. g., RSA 541:13; RSA 31:78 (Supp.1979), there is no requirement under RSA 159:6-c (Supp.1979) that any presumption of reasonableness be accorded the decision of the selectmen. It appears to us that the statute contemplates that the district court would hear evidence and make its own determination "whether the petitioner is entitled to a license."

We reject the plaintiff's argument that his prior felony conviction cannot be considered by the selectmen or the district court because it...

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8 cases
  • Bleiler v. Chief, Dover Police Dep't
    • United States
    • New Hampshire Supreme Court
    • July 18, 2007
    ...court ... hear evidence and make its own determination [upon] whether the petitioner is entitled to a license." Kozerski v. Steere, 121 N.H. 469, 472, 433 A.2d 1244 (1981) (quotation omitted). Additionally, "[a]ny person aggrieved by a violation of the licensing sections of [RSA chapter 159......
  • State v. Merski
    • United States
    • New Hampshire Supreme Court
    • October 14, 1981
    ...of the ... (p)enal (c)ode.' " (Citation omitted.) Polk v. State Bar, 480 F.2d 998, 1002 (5th Cir. 1973). As in Kozerski v. Steere, 121 N.H. ---, 433 A.2d 1244 (decided June 10, 1981), we fail to see how the facts in this case bring into play the exclusionary rule. Because the receipt of the......
  • E.D. Swett, Inc. v. New Hampshire Com'n for Human Rights
    • United States
    • New Hampshire Supreme Court
    • December 30, 1983
    ...suspension, revocation, or denial of licenses. See Allard v. Power, 122 N.H. 27, 28, 440 A.2d 450, 451 (1982); Kozerski v. Steere, 121 N.H. 469, 472, 433 A.2d 1244, 1245 (1981). Accordingly, Swett claims that the superior court may hear additional evidence. We RSA 354-A:10 allows parties ag......
  • Garand v. Town of Exeter
    • United States
    • New Hampshire Supreme Court
    • July 31, 2009
    ...a prior version of the statute, we "consider[ed] the standard of review in RSA 159:6–c (Supp.1979) appeals," Kozerski v. Steere, 121 N.H. 469, 471, 433 A.2d 1244 (1981), and reasoned:Unlike many other appeal statutes, e.g. RSA 541:13 ; RSA 31:78 (Supp.1979), there is no requirement under RS......
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