New Hampshire v. BarnabyAnnotate this Case
Defendants Anthony Barnaby and David Caplin were charged with two counts each of first degree and second degree murder in the deaths of two women that occurred in 1988. The State appealed a superior court order that denied in part, its motion to depose certain foreign witnesses pursuant to RSA 517:13 (2007). In 2010, the State reopened its investigation into the murders. As a result of that investigation, a grand jury indicted the defendants on the present charges in 2015. In April 2016, the State moved, pursuant to RSA 517:13, to take video depositions of eleven Canadian residents for potential use at the defendants’ trials. The State maintained that the prospective deponents were material witnesses who could not be compelled to testify at trial and, therefore, video depositions are necessary “to preserve their testimony and ensure a fair trial.” The defendants objected. The court found the State had met its burden of proving that the depositions of one witness in Caplin’s case and one witness in Barnaby’s case were necessary, but that it had failed to demonstrate a necessity for the other depositions. On appeal, the State argued the trial court applied the wrong standard in determining whether the State had met its burden to take the depositions under RSA 517:13, II(a). The New Hampshire Supreme Court concluded that whether a witness resides in a foreign country and is not subject to the jurisdiction of the New Hampshire courts is a factor that can be considered when determining whether a deposition is necessary to preserve the testimony of a witness who is unlikely to be available for trial due to one of the enumerated conditions in RSA 517:13, II(a). Because the trial court did not have the benefit of the Supreme Court’s interpretation of RSA 517:13, II(a) and it was not clear what weight, if any, that the trial court placed upon the fact that these witnesses were not subject to the jurisdiction of the New Hampshire courts, the Supreme Court vacated the trial court’s decision and remanded for consideration of whether the State met its burden pursuant to RSA 517:13, II(a).