Doyle v. New Hampshire Dep't of Resources & Econ. Dev.Annotate this Case
Plaintiff Jonathan Doyle appealed a superior court order that granted summary judgment to Defendants the Commissioner of the New Hampshire Department of Resources and Economic Development and the Monadnock State Park Manager (collectively, DRED), and that denied his motion for summary judgment. In 2009, Plaintiff staged a "Bigfoot" sighting (with himself dressed as Bigfoot) on Mount Monadnock. At the top of the mountain, he put on a costume, and filmed conversations he had with other hikers. On his way back down, he encountered two park staff members, and persuaded them to write a note saying there had been a "sighting" on the mountain. To garner publicity for his next appearance, Plaintiff had a friend write a press release for the local paper. Much to their annoyance, Park officials began fielding media calls trying to confirm whether reports of the sighting were true. When Plaintiff returned for more filming, he was confronted by park officials checking whether Plaintiff had a "special-use permit" to continue filming. With none, Plaintiff and his crew were asked to leave the mountain. Plaintiff subsequently brought a declaratory judgment action against DRED, arguing that Res 7306.01(a) violated the right to free speech contained in the New Hampshire Constitution and the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. He also sought a permanent injunction, nominal damages, costs and fees. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of DRED, ruling that Plaintiff failed to show that Res 7306.01(a) was unconstitutional. On appeal, Plaintiff argued the trial court erred because Res 7306.01(a) was void for vagueness, overbroad on its face and not narrowly tailored, and also overbroad as applied to Plaintiff's small-scale project. Upon review, the Supreme Court reversed the grant of summary judgment in favor of DRED: "More troubling is that this regulation needlessly stifles political speech, an integral component to the operation of the system of government established by our Constitution."