Hassan to nominate Amy Messer for superior court judge

Concord Monitor
Published: 4/5/2016 12:26:15 AM
Modified: 4/5/2016 12:27:10 AM

Concord — Gov. Maggie Hassan announced Monday she will nominate Amy Messer, the head of the Disability Rights Center and a former public defender, to be a superior court judge.

The nomination comes five months after the Republican-led Executive Council turned down the confirmation of Manchester public defender Dorothy Graham, noting her experience defending sex offenders as a prime concern. That decision spurred an angry backlash from lawyers and local law enforcement, many of whom said Graham simply was doing her job.

The 54-year-old Messer, a Hopkinton, N.H., resident, four years ago helped sue the state in a landmark class-action case over its treatment of residents with serious mental illnesses. The state settled in 2013, agreeing to spend $30 million on improvements to its mental health system.

Messer joined Disability Rights Center in 1999 and was promoted to executive director last year. Before that, she was assistant director at the New Hampshire Public Defender Program.

“I’m so honored to have been nominated by the governor and am really looking forward to meeting with the Executive Council,” she said Monday.

Asked about her defense experience and how it might be perceived by the council, Messer noted the wide breadth of her 25-year career: practicing both civil and criminal law, representing both plaintiffs and defendants, managing a firm and arguing at all levels except the U.S. Supreme Court.

“That’s given me a great window into the workings of the judiciary at all levels,” she said. “I really enjoy all aspects of the law and being a superior court judge is just an incredible opportunity.”

Messer received her undergraduate degree from the University of Vermont and her law degree from the Northeastern University School of Law.

Hassan is expected to make the nomination on Wednesday.

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