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Wednesday, May 29, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Judge Dismisses Charges in Phone-Jamming Case

(CN) - A federal judge in Maine dismissed the latest charges against a former Republican National Committee official acquitted of jamming phone lines during New Hampshire's 2002 election.

James Tobin, a former GOP political organizer, successfully fought his 2005 conviction on two counts of phone harassment for jamming the phone lines of the Democratic Party and the Manchester firefighters' union, which had offered free rides to the polls.

For 85 minutes, the Democrats' get-out-the-vote lines rang continuously with hang-up calls. Republican John Sununu defeated incumbent Gov. Jeanne Shaheen for the Senate in that election.

Tobin was acquitted in federal court in New Hampshire, after U.S. District Judge Stephen McAuliffe and the 1st Circuit agreed that there wasn't anything "inherently wicked or even suspect about multiple phone calls."

While the 1st Circuit appeal was pending, a federal grand jury in Maine indicted Tobin on two counts of making false statements to government investigators in 2003.

Tobin said the government only indicted him in Maine because he had successfully appealed his New Hampshire conviction.

U.S. District Judge George Singal agreed that bringing new charges against Tobin qualified as "vindictive prosecution."

"[T]he government has failed to satisfy its burden of identifying objective facts that dispel the appearance of vindictiveness," Singal wrote.

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