CONCORD, NH —Deputy Attorney General Jane Young held a news conference Wednesday in Concord to rebuff allegations that the takeover of the prosecutorial duties from embattled Hillsborough County Attorney Michael Conlon was politically motivated.
Attorney General Gordon MacDonald has appointed former Manchester Police Chief David Mara to oversee the prosecutorial functions, although he has no experience in Superior Court. Young said Mara switched his law license status from inactive to active after the decision was made for him to take over.
Young said she recognized the dedicated employees in the Hillsborough County Attorney’s Office and first brought the problems to light with Conlon’s predecessor last August.
“The issues with the office were the lack of leadership from the then-county attorney,” Young said.
The review continued, but didn’t improve even as the attorney general provided suggestions to Conlon.
“I can personally tell you we have been in dialogue with County Attorney Conlon I would say at least on a weekly basis. We have continued and tried to work through this,” Young said.
Conlon said there are myriad problems and he is working on them.
“I’m not surprised they are finding issues,” Conlon said.
“A lot of issues are not of my creation. I have been able to address some of them, but the notion I can solve all of them in eight moths is unreasonable,” Conlon said.
Young said: “We have jobs the three of us. We carry caseloads, but we are in Hillsborough County because it is the right thing to do.”
People keep asking her, “why are you here. This must be political,” Young said.
Conlon was given time and suggestions as to how to straighten out the office, she said.
“He (Conlon) simply failed to do that,” Young said.
Suggestions were made that he immediately hire an attorney with substantial experience who could help create policies, a case management structure and some type of system to approve negotiated dispositions. She also recommended he hire a second experienced attorney to help with litigation function.
She said the state is hiring a training prosecutor in a couple of weeks.
“We gave him the opportunity to do that. He simply failed,” Young said.
She mentioned several important cases that Conlon was not aware of including one involving a victim and a police prosecutor from Merrimack County. “We called the county attorney and his answer was he didn’t know about the case.”
Young also mentioned a Manchester murder involving domestic violence and a third involving the death of a child that Conlon was also unaware of.