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MacDonald sworn in as chief justice of NH Supreme Court

  • Gordon J. MacDonald was sworn in as the new chief justice of the New Hampshire Supreme Court on March 4, 2021. (Photo by John Gauvin)

Associated Press
Published: 3/4/2021 9:54:17 PM
Modified: 3/4/2021 9:54:14 PM

CONCORD — Former Attorney General Gordon MacDonald was sworn in as chief justice of the New Hampshire Supreme Court on Thursday in a ceremony where he paid tribute to a former judge and mentor who gifted him his own judicial robes.

“The law is a profession that renews and regenerates through role models and mentorship,” MacDonald said in a ceremony at the courthouse. “There is no better role model and mentor as a lawyer and as a judge than Norman Stahl, and there could be no better friend. He never lost faith in me.”

MacDonald was a law clerk for Stahl, a judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. Before that, Stahl was a U.S. district judge in New Hampshire, and MacDonald got to know him as a summer intern.

“With great humility and hardly feeling worthy, I will be wearing those robes as a justice of this court,” MacDonald said. “They will serve as a constant reminder to me the essential qualities of a great judge that I first observed all those years ago: fairness, impartiality, fidelity to the law, diligence, hard work, respect, compassion, humility, and complete integrity.”

MacDonald, who was attorney general from April 13, 2017, until Thursday, was sworn in by Republican Gov. Chris Sununu, a little more than 18 months after he was initially rejected for the position.

Republicans won a 4-1 majority on the Executive Council in November, ousting Democrats who had blocked MacDonald’s confirmation in July 2019.

MacDonald is replacing Chief Justice Robert Lynn, who retired in August that year.

While MacDonald had broad support from the legal community — including from Lynn and his two predecessors — opponents questioned his lack of experience as a judge and his involvement in conservative Republican politics.

MacDonald is Sununu’s third appointee to the high court without experience as a judge, and the first in at least a century to become chief justice without prior time on the bench.

MacDonald attended public schools in Hanover and graduated from Dartmouth College in 1983.

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