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Courtroom Rivals Compete for Grafton County Attorney Job

  • Grafton County Attorney candidates Natch Greyes, left, and Marcie Hornick share a microphone while participating in a Grafton County Primary Candidates Forum moderated by county commissioner Wendy Piper at the Canaan Meetinghouse in Canaan, N.H., on Aug. 27, 2018. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Natch Greyes, who is a Democratic candidate for Grafton County Attorney, speaks at the Grafton County Primary Candidates Forum in Canaan, N.H., on Aug. 27, 2018. Greyes is currently a district court prosecutor in Littleton, N.H. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Marcie Hornick, a Democratic candidate for the Grafton County Attorney, speaks at the Grafton County Primary Candidates Forum in Canaan, N.H., on Aug. 27, 2018. Hornick is currrently Managing Attorney of the Littleton office of the New Hampshire Public Defender. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Democratic candidates for Grafton County Sheriff Jeffrey Stiegler, right, and Travis Austin speak at the Grafton County Primary Candidates Forum at the Canaan Meetinghouse in Canaan, N.H., on Aug. 27, 2018. Stiegler is currently the police chief in Bradford, Vt., and Austin is the police chief in Hebron, N.H. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Grafton County Register of Deeds Kelley Monahan speaks at the Grafton County Primary Candidates Forum in Canaan, N.H., on Aug. 27, 2018. Monahan faces a primary challenge from fellow Democrat Liz Gesler. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Liz Gesler, a Democratic candidate for Grafton County Register of Deeds, participates in the Grafton County Primary Candidates Forum in Canaan, N.H., on Aug. 27, 2018. Gesler lives in Orford, N.H., and is a horse trainer and riding instructor. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.



Valley News Staff Writer
Tuesday, September 04, 2018

North Haverhill — A public defender with 15 years of experience and a prosecutor with four are vying for the Grafton County attorney position currently held by Democrat Lara Saffo, who is stepping down after nine years on the job.

Marcie Hornick, the managing attorney of the Northern Grafton County Public Defender’s Office, and Natch Greyes, a district court prosecutor also in northern Grafton County, will square off in the Sept. 11 primary election to become the Democratic nominee. With no Republican challenger, the winner likely will assume the lead prosecutorial post in the county come January.

Hornick, 58, and Greyes, 29, are no strangers to each other. They have worked together — on opposite sides of the courtroom — since Greyes became the prosecutor for Littleton, Franconia and Sugar Hill in mid-2014. Though neither could recall a trial against the other, they have talked and negotiated on a number of cases.

Hornick, a resident of Littleton who graduated from University of Maine School of Law, touted her experience as a defense attorney as an asset to assuming the county attorney post, noting that the set of skills a prosecutor needs is “just the other side of the coin.”

Greyes, a Sugar Hill resident who graduated from William & Mary School of Law, has been a prosecutor, something he said should give him the edge.

Both Hornick and Greyes have similar views on alternative sentencing versus incarceration. Both believe alternative sentencing through drug and mental health courts are the way to go when appropriate, but noted that incarceration serves a purpose for certain offenders.

Both candidates plan to keep those alternative sentencing programs in place. Hornick would focus her resources on bettering the existing programs, while Greyes would work to expand the drug court to the district level.

“I’d like to maintain our focus and improve what we are doing,” said Hornick, who teaches tennis in her off-time. “I’d like to make sure these are secure.”

The current drug court design in Grafton County only accepts offenders who have committed a felony-level offense. Greyes hopes to expand the drug court model to misdemeanor offenses. In his time as a prosecutor, he said he has had people ask him what type of offense they would have to commit in order to get into the program and get the substance abuse help they need.

“They are desperate for help,” Greyes said. “We just don’t have a way to help.”

Hornick is of another mind, saying there are tracks, such as diversion, that an offender’s case can take to accomplish the same goal that a lower-level drug court would provide. The courts already are strapped for resources and adding another program could further overburden them, she said.

In addition, she said the drug court model is most effective on “high-risk, high-need” offenders.

To combat the opioid epidemic, Hornick said, the county needs to do more preventive work to deter young people from turning to drugs, a measure that could be started with a task force of some kind.

Greyes also likes the idea of a task force, but one that can help facilitate federal grants that could put more boots on the ground to better stop and track the big drug dealers who are running contraband up the Interstate 91 corridor.

Both candidates support police body cameras, but noted that financial barriers prevent some county departments from obtaining them. Hornick and Greyes support the release of footage, but not during a pending investigation. If no charges are filed or if the case is adjudicated, they are both for the release of it, though.

But Greyes said he has an eye on privacy, as well. He said there are times when it is appropriate to limit release to protect a victim’s identity, for example.

Both candidates said they would disclose to the defense the name of an officer on the “Laurie List,” now called the Exculpatory Evidence Schedule, which is a record of officers with credibility issues.

State law mandates that they do, but the Attorney General’s Office recently issued new guidelines on the list, and said that an officer would only be placed on it once an investigation into his or her alleged misconduct is “sustained.” Therefore, the officer wouldn’t be placed on the list during the investigation, according to the attorney general’s April memorandum.

Asked whether she would rely on an officer’s testimony who is under investigation but whose misconduct is not yet confirmed to inform her of a situation, Hornick said it would depend on what other information she knew.

“I’d have to have more information before I could say one way or the other,” Hornick said, saying she would reach out to the officer’s chief and find out what the specific issues were at play.

Greyes said he feels the Attorney General’s Office needs to provide better guidance on the new Laurie List rules. He questioned whether prosecutors are being told “all the time” who is on the list or who is under investigation.

If elected, Greyes also hopes to work with legislators to close “legal loopholes” that he says criminals can exploit and get free on technicalities. He also hopes to facilitate closer relationships with community partners, including those who support victims of domestic and sexual abuse.

Hornick also vows to continue to support victims. She hopes to forge stronger ties with the police departments in the county.

Hornick has been endorsed by Saffo, who called her experienced, well-respected and one who understands public safety issues the communities in the county are facing. Greyes, meanwhile, has been endorsed by the New Hampshire State Employees Association.

The position pays $86,000.

Other PrimariesIn Grafton County

Voters who take to the polls on Sept. 11 also will need to weigh in on contested races for other positions in the county, including sheriff and register of deeds.

Current Grafton County Sheriff Doug Dutile is running unopposed for re-election on the Republican side of the ballot. He, however, will face a Democratic challenger in the general election on Nov. 6.

On the Democratic side, Bradford, Vt., Police Chief Jeff Stiegler and Hebron, N.H., Police Chief Travis Austin will square off for the post with a salary of $64,700.

Stiegler, 51, of North Haverhill, graduated from Woodsville High School in 1984 and has been with Bradford police for several years. Prior to working there, Stiegler was a member of the Plymouth State University and Laconia police departments.

“My promise to every voter in Grafton County if elected is very simple,” Stiegler said in a prepared statement, “I am a firm believer in needs-based budgeting, work place accountability, purpose in a mission and having a working sheriff for the benefit of not only the department he or she represents, but a benefit for every citizen living and visiting our county.”

Austin, 37, is a graduate of Danville, N.H., High School and was hired as a sergeant at the Hebron department in 2005. He previously worked for the Bristol, N.H., police force.

Austin, who resides in Hebron, also is running on a platform that keeps taxes in mind.

“I am a collaborator by nature and have learned that support from the community is critical in all aspects of public service,” he said in a statement. “In addition, many residents of Grafton County have an eye on the county tax rate. As sheriff, I would give full attention to doing the most possible without excessive spending.”

At a candidates forum in Canaan on Aug. 24, both officers said that under their watch, the Grafton County Sheriff’s Department would not participate in any border patrol stops, according to a taping from Channel 8 in Enfield. Twice this year, U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents stopped southbound traffic on Interstate 93 in Woodstock, a Grafton County town, for an immigration checkpoint.

Two other contested primaries in the county include register of deeds on the Democratic ballot and executive councilor on the Republican side.

Register of Deeds Kelley Jean Monahan, who has held the position for eight years and would make $60,200 if re-elected, is facing a challenge from fellow Orford resident Liz Gesler, a horse trainer and instructor who says she is ready for a career change, while Executive Councilor Joseph Kenney, of Union, N.H., faces a bid from Kim Strathdee, of Lincoln, N.H.

Jordan Cuddemi can be reached at jcuddemi@vnews.com or 603-727-3248.

Correction

In the New Hampshire court system, jury trials are held only at the Superior Court level. An earlier version of this story incorrectly suggested that they also take place at the District Court level. The only trials in District Court take place before a judge.