Clean up the mess

The takeover of the Hillsborough County Attorney’s Office by the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office gets more intriguing by the day.

The Hillsborough County attorney oversees what is by far the state’s most populous county, and the only one with two jurisdictions: Hillsborough South in Nashua and Hillsborough North in Manchester.

Together, North and South currently have roughly 20 assistant county attorneys on staff, a slight majority in Manchester. Each has a first assistant county attorney; Smith, in Nashua, while the Manchester post has yet to be filled since the departure of attorney Leslie Gill.

Elected County Attorney Michael Conlon, a Democrat, has seen Deputy Attorney General Jane Young, along with assistant Attorneys General Ben Agati and Erin Fitzgerald, take control of the daily affairs in his office.

On Sept. 6, Republican Attorney General Gordon MacDonald sent a letter to Conlon, stating he had identified “systemic failures in the leadership of the prosecutorial function of your office.”

“I welcome any and all resources and suggestions the AG can make available for our office,” Conlon told The Telegraph at the time. “I will continue my job, chosen by the voters of Hillsborough County, to advocate for them and give them support and guidance so we can do our best to get the job done.”

Since then, Young and the others have been working at the office to determine the proper course of action. Young told one media outlet she would describe the entire situation as “dire.”

Conlon was elected last year when he narrowly ousted Republican incumbent Dennis Hogan. The fact Conlon had no previous experience as a prosecutor apparently didn’t deter his voters during the Democratic “blue wave” of 2018.

MacDonald, meanwhile, in July saw his nomination to become chief justice of the New Hampshire Supreme Court rejected by a 3-2 party-line vote, the Democratic-controlled New Hampshire Executive Council.

At the time, Democratic Executive Councilor Debora Pignatelli of Nashua told The Telegraph she voted against MacDonald because he was “a partisan activist.”

Nevertheless, Young flatly denies the action in Hillsborough County is politically motivated.

If there are, indeed, as many problems in the county attorney’s office as Young says, if will take officials at the AG’s office plenty of time to clean up the mess. However, the prosecutorial role of government is one that must be done properly.

The power to put people in prison or fine them large sums of money lies with those who serve as prosecutors. Every effort must be made to ensure that justice is served in as fair a manner as possible.