DA considering outside prosecutor for Nilan case

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PITTSFIELD -- Berkshire District Attorney David F. Capeless says his office will consider asking an outside prosecutor to handle the Meredith Nilan case because of her father's position with the Probation Department.

Nilan is the 24-year-old daughter of Berkshire Superior Court Probation Chief Clifford Nilan. She has been charged with leaving the scene of a personal injury accident and negligent operation of a motor vehicle in an alleged hit-and-run case in December that left a 45-year-old Pittsfield man, Peter Moore, seriously injured.

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Both charges have been filed as misdemeanors against Meredith Nilan. She is scheduled to be arraigned in Central Berkshire District Court on Wednesday, Feb. 29.

On Tuesday, Capeless said his office will look into having a prosecutor from outside Berkshire County try the case because of the "close working relationship between my office" and the Probation Department.

A member of the Superior Court's Probation Department since 1972, Clifford Nilan has been its chief probation officer since 1981. The Berkshire District Attorney's office opened in 1979. The Probation Department and the DA's office often work in tandem in the judicial system.

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Capeless also confirmed that his office has been advising the Pittsfield Police Department throughout the case.

"Following their investigation, we advised the Pittsfield Police Department that they should seek the complaints" against Meredith Nilan, Capeless said, "and we've worked closely with them through the hearing and the appeals process."

Asked for his reaction to the fact that charges will go forward, Capeless responded, "It's appropriate that this matter will now be heard in open court and will ultimately be decided by a jury."

The two charges were filed against Meredith Nilan after Springfield District Court Judge William P. Hadley reversed a clerk magistrate's ruling against pressing charges.

At a hearing in January, Westfield Clerk Magistrate Nathan Byrnes found "no probable cause" to charge Nilan. The Pittsfield Police Department appealed that decision; the case was then heard by Hadley.

Meredith Nilan was driving her father's Subaru Forester when police say she struck Moore who was walking his dog on Winesap Road on around 8:20 p.m. on Dec. 8. Police say Nilan drove off, but her attorney says she didn't know what she hit.


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