An Andover police officer failed to appear last week for a scheduled court hearing on an alleged hit-and-run, drunken driving accident.
Evan Robitaille, 32, was to appear last Friday, Nov. 22, for a clerk magistrate’s hearing in Lowell District Court to determine if probable cause exists to charge him with operating under the influence of liquor, leaving the scene of an accident causing property damage, negligent operation of a motor vehicle and failure to use care in starting, stopping, turning or backing up a motor vehicle.
Robitaille was issued a criminal summons to appear before a clerk magistrate following a March 11 accident at an undisclosed location, according to Massachusetts State Police. He has been on paid leave since.
The clerk magistrate’s hearing was originally scheduled for Sept. 6, but was postponed until last week at the agreement of both sides in the case.
Employees in the Lowell District Court clerk’s office said Robitaille failed to “answer” and present himself when called into the hearing and, because of that, a new court date was set for Jan. 9.
Failure to attend that hearing would result in the court issuing an arrest warrant for Robitaille, according to the clerk’s office.
While Robitaille was not present at the hearing, his attorney, Ted Cranney of Andover, was seen entering and exiting the courtroom where the hearing was scheduled.
Peter Caruso of Andover, attorney for the North of Boston Media Group, the parent company of The Andover Townsman, said Cranney told him the day before the clerk magistrate’s hearing that he intended to waive an appearance on Robitaille’s behalf.
Cranney declined comment when approached by a Townsman reporter at the Lowell court.
When asked if the hearing was waived and ended, Cranney said it was “all done” and declined further questions.
Caruso has filed a motion to intervene in the court proceedings and open the clerk magistrate hearing to the public.
The motion argues that the case is “one of special public significance,” and “the legitimate interest of the public outweighs the right of privacy of the accused,” Caruso wrote in the motion.
Traditionally, clerk magistrate hearings on applications for criminal complaints are closed. The two parties in the case argue their positions, and the magistrate rules to either issue a criminal complaint or deny the application without it ever becoming public, according to Caruso.
Waiving a clerk magistrate’s hearing would effectively send the matter straight to a criminal complaint, Caruso said.
Court staff denied requests for documents pertaining to the case, saying they are not public until an arraignment takes place.
Stephanie Guyotte, spokeswoman for the Middlesex County District Attorney’s office, said she couldn’t comment on Robitaille’s case because the “investigation into that crash is still ongoing.”