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N.H. Bar Association Raises Concerns About 'Fairness' Of Latest Sununu Judicial Choice

Photo of Pay Conway

The New Hampshire Bar Association is raising concerns about Gov. Chris Sununu’s latest pick to join the state superior court: Rockingham County Attorney Patricia Conway.

In an April 2 letter to Sununu and the Executive Council, Bar Association President-Elect Richard Guerriero wrote that the association’s Board of Governors considered Conway’s credentials and voted her “qualified but with reservations about her legal knowledge outside of criminal law and with reservations about her impartiality and fairness.“

The letter did not elaborate on those reservations. Guerriero did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Neither did Conway, nor did a spokesman for Sununu.

But when he announced Conway’s nomination last month, Sununu said she was recommended by his own judicial selection commission and praised her experience.

“She will make an exceptional Judge,” Sununu said.

Conway, a Republican who lives in Salem, has been county attorney in Rockingham County since 2015. Before that, she spent 16 years as an assistant county prosecutor. But her time in office hasn’t been without controversy.

In 2015, Rockingham County paid former prosecutor Jerome Blanchard $80,000 to settle a wrongful termination claim related to Conway’s decision to fire Blanchard the day she took office. Blanchard alleged Conway was retaliating against him for cooperating with state prosecutors in 2013, when they removed their former mutual boss, longtime County Attorney Jim Reams, from office. 

County officials said at the time that Conway fired Blanchard in retaliation for reporting that Conway’s husband, former Salem Police Sgt. Eric Lamb, had been removed from the state's list of law enforcement officers with credibility concerns, the so-called Laurie List.

The state alleged that Reams removed Lamb’s name from the list. Reams said the removal was an error, and Lamb’s name was later restored to the list.

Conway’s confirmation hearing before the Executive Council is scheduled for Wednesday afternoon. She will need the support of a majority of the five-person council to become a judge.

Josh has worked at NHPR since 2000.

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