Spofford’s Defamation Lawsuit Against NHPR on Hold Because the Judge Is On Leave

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Judge Daniel St. Hilaire

By NANCY WEST, InDepthNH.org

BRENTWOOD – The defamation lawsuit Eric Spofford filed against New Hampshire Public Radio in Rockingham Superior Court is on hold for now because the judge is on leave, but the reason for Judge Daniel St. Hilaire’s absence has not been made public.

NHPR’s attorney Sigmund Schutz filed a motion June 21 seeking to stay or modify St. Hilaire’s order telling NHPR to turn over interviews and emails used in reporting its March 22, 2022 story accusing Spofford of sexually harassing a former client and sexually assaulting two employees when he owned and served as the CEO of Granite Recovery Centers. Spofford has since sold GRC and denied the allegations.

St. Hilaire dismissed the lawsuit in April, but gave Spofford 30 days to rewrite his complaint focusing on “actual malice” but Spofford’s attorney Michael Strauss instead filed a motion stating he needed records from NHPR to show malice, most of which St. Hilaire granted.

Schutz’ ‘s motion in late June said there was new evidence in the case when three men were arrested for vandalizing homes associated with the story’s lead reporter Lauren Chooljian and editor Dan Barrick. Spofford was not accused of the vandalism and has said he had nothing to do with it.

Schutz asked St. Hilaire to stay or modify his discovery ruling, asking that he expedite it to save money for NHPR in compiling the documents.

Judge Andrew Schulman issued an interim order staying the current deadlines to turn over the requested documents to St. Hilaire saying the judge is on leave, but Schulman later vacated his order due to a potential conflict.

Judge Lisa M. English then stepped in and issued an interim order June 30 also staying the deadlines because St. Hilaire is on leave.

A court spokesman told InDepthNH.org: “Per Chief Justice (Tina) Nadeau, we do not provide personal information like this about judges to the media.”

Judge English wrote: “The NHPR Defendants request expedited consideration of their motion, in the hope that they may avoid accruing further costs arising out of their compliance with the Court’s May 30, 2023 order.

“…Judge St. Hilaire is currently on leave and unable to review the pending motion on an expedited basis,” English wrote.

“After review, the undersigned judge finds that it would be appropriate to stay the current discovery deadlines until Judge St. Hilaire has the opportunity to rule on the pending motion upon his return from leave. Accordingly, discovery pursuant to the May 30, 2023 order shall be stayed,” English wrote.

Spofford’s attorney Michael Strauss declined comment Tuesday.

Attorney Schutz said: “We requested that the limited discovery order be vacated so Judge English’s order staying discovery is a good development.  That preserves the status quo until Judge St. Hilaire is back.  We have no information about his leave or whether or when he will be back.”

Spofford is well-known in the recovery industry for speaking about his own long-term recovery from heroin addiction and business success. He reportedly sold GRC for $115 million, bought a $20 million mansion in Miami and is still in business dealing with real estate, business coaching and chartering his $6 million yacht.

He was singled out by Gov. Chris Sununu for his work helping alcoholics and drugs addicts recover in New Hampshire.

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