Good morning –
The Washington Free Beacon reports this morning that Manchester public defender Dorothy Graham, a Maggie Hassan nominee for the New Hampshire Superior Court, “has twice attempted to reduce the sentences of child rapists on technicalities." In the October 6th press release announcing the nominees, Hassan said that each “demonstrated an unyielding commitment to public service and justice.”
Hassan’s release also notes, “all six nominations are subject to Executive Council approval.” Graham is expected to appear before the executive council on Monday.
NH Dem Senate Candidate’s Judicial Nominations Criticized
By: Bill McMorrisOctober 16, 2015
New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan tapped a public defender with a history of trying to get child rapists off on technicalities for a vacant judgeship.
Manchester public defender Dorothy Graham, whom Hassan nominated to the Superior Court, has twice attempted to reduce the sentences of child rapists on technicalities and, in one case, a “clerical error.” She took those cases all the way to the New Hampshire Supreme Court with mixed success.
In 2011, she appealed the 2009 conviction of Hector Ortiz, who was sentenced to 25 to 50 years in prison for repeatedly raping and sexually assaulting his girlfriend’s daughter.
“The pediatrician who examined the victim testified that he examined her ‘to evaluate her for an allegation of sexual abuse.’ The victim ‘was about 10 years old’ at the time. The pediatrician asked the victim if the defendant ‘had put his penis inside her; she said yes.’ He asked her ‘if this had happened before, and she shyly said yes,’” the decision says.
She attempted to reduce his sentence to 10 years, citing a clerical error that led the judge to misread his punishment and also argued to waive the testimony of a retired detective. Graham did not dispute that Ortiz was guilty of the offenses. The Supreme Court affirmed the sentence and dismissed Graham’s arguments.
Ortiz was not the only convicted child rapist Graham assisted.
She challenged a kidnapping charge against a man convicted of attempting to sexually assault a 7-year-old girl he lured away from her driveway. Daniel Casanova, then 37, was convicted in 2011 of attempted sexual assault and attempted kidnapping charges and was sentenced to between 10 and 20 years in prison.
Graham, then an assistant appellate defender in the Concord office, argued that it was unclear whether Casanova meant to “penetrate” or merely touch the child “for sexual gratification.” The Supreme Court dismissed that claim, though agreed to dismiss the kidnapping charge by merging it into the sexual assault conviction. His sentence was not reduced.
Hassan nominated Graham and five other lower court judges and lawyers to important state posts on Oct. 6. She praised the public defender and her colleagues for their “experience, character and integrity.”