No ruling yet on Nilan crash appeal

Saturday February 11, 2012

PITTSFIELD -- A Springfield judge has yet to make a ruling on the appeal of an alleged hit-and-run case involving the 24-year-old daughter of Berkshire Superior Court's chief of probation.

According to court officials, Springfield District Court Judge William P. Hadley has been reviewing the case against Meredith Nilan of Pittsfield for about three weeks. A decision was expected this week, but did not occur.

On Thursday, Hadley asked for further information on the case to be sent to him. It is unclear exactly what he requested.

Meredith Nilan was driving her father's car on Dec. 8 when she struck a 45-year-old Pittsfield man on Winesap Road, according to police.

Meredith Nilan's attorney, Timothy Shugrue, said his client wasn't sure what she had struck, got out of the car, looked for signs of an accident, but found none. She later returned to the scene with her father but again found nothing, according to Shugrue.

The collision left dents in the 2001 Subaru Forester's hood and a head-sized hole in the windshield.

Peter 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 slowly recovering from his injuries, but has had to undergo surgery on his neck.

Pittsfield Police later obtained a search warrant to inspect the Nilan's car before filing the application for a criminal complaint that led to a show-cause hearing on Jan. 12 in Central Berkshire District Court. Show-cause hearings are held in front of a clerk magistrate to determine if enough probable cause exists to file a criminal charge.

Because of Nilan's father's position in the local court system, a clerk magistrate from Westfield was brought in to preside over the private hearing.

Following the 21 2-hour hearing, Clerk Magistrate Nathan A. Byrnes found "no probable cause" to charge Meredith Nilan with the two misdemeanors sought by police.

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

Under state law, a clerk magistrate can either close a show-cause hearing or open it to the public, and does not have to allow victims and their lawyers from being present.

Pittsfield Police appealed the clerk magistrate's decision not to charge Nilan with leaving the scene of a personal injury accident and negligent operation of a motor vehicle.

Hadley, who handles cases for Central Berkshire District Court when the potential for conflict of interest exists, can either dismiss the case based on the evidence he's reviewing, or schedule another court hearing, officials said.

Hinkley said he and Moore are evaluating their options with regard to a civil suit.


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