PORTLAND, Maine — A Dedham woman has lost her bid to register her car in Louisiana while living in Maine.
The Maine Supreme Judicial Court unanimously ruled Tuesday that Donna Hall evaded paying registration fees and excise taxes in 2006 when she did not register her car after residing in Maine for two years.
The law requires that a person who has lived in Maine for at least 30 days register his or her vehicle and pay excise taxes. There are exceptions for members of the military stationed in Maine and students attending colleges and universities.
Hall claimed that she wanted to register her car in her native state so she could vote there. She also said that she intended to return there to live.
Her actions, according to the five-page decision written by Justice Andrew Mead, showed her intent to stay in Maine.
“Hall resided in Maine for two years, lived in a home that she had purchased, enrolled her daughter in public school, and returned to Louisiana for only brief periods of time,” he wrote.
District Court Justice Robert Murray found that Hall was a Maine resident when she contested a ticket she was issued on June 13, 2006, for failing to register her vehicle. Her attorney, Steven Juskewitch of Ellsworth, appealed the decision to the state supreme court.
The oral arguments in the case before the Maine Supreme Judicial Court on Oct. 30 at Shead Memorial High School in Eastport prompted a lively question-and-answer session between the attorneys and the justices.
“Your client is still here after four years, thumbing her nose at Maine law,” Justice Donald Alexander declared.
Juskewitch bristled and shot back: “This is not appropriate. That is not what she is doing. I take umbrage at that statement.”
Juskewitch said Tuesday that he was not surprised by the court’s decision.
“The [court’s] reasoning that she intended to remain in Maine is that she remained in Maine,” he said. “Using the fact that because she’s living here she must intend to remain here is a circular argument. … It isn’t consistent with our concept of our ability to travel freely from state to state.”