Monday, March 10, 2014

Screening defeats PD's motion to DQ New Hampshire AG's office - Legal Profession Blog

A capital case is so rare in New Hampshire that it is practically a random event.  The state last executed someone in 1939.  The Public Defender moved to disqualify the state Attorney General's office because they had hired Lisa Wolford - a key person in the PD.  The state's Supreme Court has concluded that the state took sufficient efforts to "screen her" so that there is no taint of the A.G.'s office.

An AP reporter scrounging for a law prof with an opinion on a summer weekend day caught up with me while I was driving to our house in Maine.  I gave her one - reasonably well couched:
Attorney George Conk, senior fellow of the Stein Center for Law and Ethics at Fordham University and an adviser on ethics to the New Jersey Supreme Court, said it was a tough call but he would disqualify the Attorney General’s office and order that private counsel be retained to insure the integrity of the appellate process.‘‘The legal presumption is that all her loyalty now rests with her current employer, and she will use all the information she has in order to aid their cause,’’ Conk said.
Legal Profession Blog:
A motion to disqualify the Attorney General's Office from participation in the appeal of a convicted capital murderer was denied by the New Hampshire Supreme Court.
At issue was a former public defender who had been involved in drafting of the defendant's appeal brief.
After leaving her public defender appellate assignment, she applied for and accepted a position with the AG's office. She was thereafter screened from any involvement in the defendant's case.
The State has provided affidavits from every other lawyer, paralegal, victim/witness advocate, investigator, and legal secretary employed in the criminal justice bureau since Wolford became employed there, attesting that, except for conversations related to screening, the Rules of Professional Conduct, or responding to discovery on the issues presented in the motion to disqualify, he or she has had no communication with Wolford about the defendant or the defendant’s case. The State has also provided affidavits from employees in the Office of Information Technology, responsible for the support of the executive branch agencies, which attest that none of the limited number of people with the authority to access Wolford’s “h:\drive” did so. In addition, Wolford, who retained independent counsel, submitted an affidavit in which she attests, among other things, that she “did not share the fact of the existence of, or the contents of” the files on her “H: drive” and that she has “never spoken with anyone at the [attorney general’s office] about Mr. Addison, my work on his case, or any other aspect of his case.” She further attests that, “Likewise, no one at the [attorney general’s office] has ever attempted to speak to me about the case except to obtain information to respond to the discovery conducted pursuant to [the] disqualification motion.”
We conclude that the State has demonstrated that it implemented screening procedures that have prevented the disclosure of any confidential information about the defendant’s case from Wolford to other prosecutors in the attorney general’s office.
The court denied further discovery on the motion.
Wikipedia has a post on the crimes  at issue in the appeal. (Mike Frisch)

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