Thursday March 1, 2012

PITTSFIELD -- Meredith Nilan waived her right to appear in person for her arraignment Wednesday morning in Central Berkshire District Court, but a not guilty plea was entered on her behalf to charges filed in an alleged hit-and-run in December.

Nilan's attorney, Timothy Shugrue, entered the plea before Judge Michael Mulcahy. The judge scheduled a pre-trial conference for March 21.

Shugrue said he plans to file a request to dismiss the case.

Nilan, 24, is the daughter of Clifford Nilan, the chief of probation at Berkshire Superior Court.

Meredith Nilan was driving her father's car the evening of Dec. 8 when she struck 45-year-old Peter Moore on Winesap Road as he walked his dog, according to police.

She has been charged with two misdemeanors: leaving the scene of a personal injury accident and negligent operation of a motor vehicle. Versions of the event conflict. Meredith Nilan says she didn't know what she hit and left after checking; police say she struck Moore and drove off. Moore was knocked unconscious, and says he has no recollection of being hit.

The case won't be prosecuted by the Berkshire District Attorney's office because of its close working relationship with Clifford Nilan in his capacity as chief of probation. Instead, the case will be handled by Worcester-based Assistant District Attorney Joseph A. Quinlan.

The charges against Meredith Nilan were applied on appeal. An appellate judge decided the case warranted pressing the charges, which overturned an earlier decision by a clerk magistrate to halt them.

Meanwhile, Clifford Nilan and his wife, Lynne, have registered their residence on Winesap Road as a homestead, according to documents on file at the Middle Berkshire Registry of Deeds in Pittsfield. The document was filed on Dec. 15, a week after the alleged hit-and-run accident involving their daughter.

Under the state's Homestead Act, houses and land are protected from legal judgments that may result from business losses, auto accidents, or suddenly inherited debts, which could protect the couple if a civil suit resulting from the accident is filed.

Moore's attorney hasn't ruled out the prospect of a civil suit.

Staff writer Tony Dobrowolski contributed to this report.

To reach Andrew Amelinckx:

aamelinckx@berkshireeagle.com,

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