Pat Conway appeared before the Executive Council Wednesday during a public hearing as she seeks to serve as a superior court justice.
Conway, a Salem Republican in her fourth term as Rockingham County Attorney, was nominated by Gov. Chris Sununu.
The career prosecutor told council members that she had the “demeanor, background and experience” to sit on the bench.
She also defended her record in the wake of a letter issued by the New Hampshire Bar Association that said while it found Conway qualified, it had “reservations about her legal knowledge outside of criminal law and with reservations about her impartiality and fairness.“
Conway addressed the letter, saying she would “apply the law to facts” in any case, and that she was confident she could be impartial. She also said while she didn’t have experience in civil matters, the vast majority of cases before a superior court judge are criminal matters.
“I know what I don’t know. I understand that with some cases, I will need to take time to study the law and rely on the experts in order to make a good ruling,” said Conway.
Executive Councilor Cinde Warmington, the lone Democrat on the council, also asked Conway about her decision to fire Jerome Blanchard, a former Rockingham County prosecutor, on her first day in 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.
Conway said any implication that Blanchard’s removal was an act of retribution was “absolutely false.”
Rockingham County ultimately paid former Blanchard $80,000 to settle the lawsuit.
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.
Senate President Chuck Morse was among those who spoke on Conway’s behalf during the hearing, saying she had the temperament and experience to serve on the bench.
The Executive Council will vote on Conway’s nomination at a future meeting.