Nilan to face criminal charges from December accident

View an updated version of this story here.

Monday February 13, 2012

PITTSFIELD -- A Springfield District Court judge has found probable cause to bring criminal charges against Meredith Nilan for a December accident that left a local man seriously injured.

Judge William P. Hadley, after reviewing the case against the 24-year-old Pittsfield woman, found that "while much of what is alleged here is circumstantial," there was enough evidence to allow the Pittsfield Police to charge the 24-year-old with two misdemeanors: leaving the scene of a personal injury accident and negligent operation of a motor vehicle.

Nilan will be arraigned Feb. 29 in Central Berkshire District Court. Nilan 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.

Moore, of McIntosh Drive, suffered several injuries, including a mild traumatic brain injury, a broken neck, a bruised colon, and a fractured calf bone. He is recovering from his injuries, but has had to undergo surgery on his neck.

Meredith Nilan's attorney, Timothy Shugrue, said she wasn't sure what she had struck and searched the area twice, once alone and later with her father. She found no evidence of what she hit, Shugrue said.

Pittsfield Police filed an application for a criminal complaint that led to a show-cause hearing last month to determine whether there was enough evidence to criminally charge Meredith Nilan.

A 2 1/2 hour private hearing was held on Jan. 12 in Central Berkshire District Court before Westfield Clerk Magistrate Nathan A. Byrnes. Byrnes determined there was "no probable cause" to charge Meredith Nilan with the two misdemeanors sought by police.

The Pittsfield Police appealed the clerk magistrate's decision. Hadley, in his decision, stated that the police "manifested serious dissatisfaction with the magistrate's decision."

Hadley went on to cite a 2002 case concerning the "low threshold" needed to prove reasonable cause, comparing it to the same standard a police officer would use in making an arrest.

Moore's attorney, Michael R. Hinkley, told The Eagle that he was not allowed to attend the show-cause hearing, and couldn't get information about what happened.

The judge's ruling was dated Friday, and it was released publicly on Monday morning.

View the Springfield District Court judge's decision here:


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