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Lynch: Bassett would bring fresh perspective to top court

New Hampshire Union Leader

May 09. 2012 9:08PM


CONCORD - James P. Bassett will bring a new and different perspective to the high court because he has never been a judge, Gov. John Lynch said Wednesday.

The Democratic governor said the public will get a chance to provide input on his nominee to the State Supreme Court at a 1 p.m. public hearing on Friday, May 18, in Executive Council chambers.

On Wednesday, Lynch formally submitted Bassett's name to the Executive Council, which must confirm or reject his nomination.

Bassett of Canterbury is a longtime Concord-based litigator who has argued cases before the Supreme Court over the years.

He is 55. Unlike most other members of the bench, Bassett has no experience as a judge. He would replace James E. Duggan of Amherst who resigned. The term is until the age of 70.

Bassett ran unsuccessfully for the Second Congressional District seat in Congress as a moderate Republican in 1994. Bassett lost in a crowded primary field to Charles Bass, who took the seat from Democrat Dick Swett.

During that campaign, Bassett was a supporter of the Brady Bill, which in 1993 established a national five-day waiting period for handgun purchases.

He has been involved in a number of civic and community groups, including New Hampshire Campaign for Legal Services, New Hampshire Public Radio board of trustees, Friends of Norris Cotton Cancer Center board of directors, Canterbury Shaker Village, Granite United Way, Conservation New Hampshire, Capitol Center for the Arts, Leadership New Hampshire, The Concord Coalition board of directors, and various sports clubs.

He has served on the Canterbury Board of Selectmen, the Canterbury Planning Board and the Canterbury Conservation Commission.

He is a 1978 graduate of Dartmouth College, and a 1982 graduate of the University of Virginia Law School.

'I am very impressed with Jim's public service,' Lynch said after the council meeting. 'He has been involved in his local community and served on nonprofits in addition to his strong litigation experience.'

In other action, the council voted 3-2 to confirm Linda M. Hodgdon to another four-year term as the commissioner of administrative services. Executive Councilors David Wheeler of Milford and Raymond Wieczorek of Manchester cast the dissenting votes.

Wieczorek noted Lynch is not seeking another term, and said the next governor should decide who fills the commissioner's post.

'If it is a four-year term, I will have to vote 'no'' Wieczorek said.

Executive Councilor Raymond Burton of Bath said he would be voting for Hodgdon based on her experience and knowledge.

'Through 2016. I think she will do well,' he said.

Hodgdon of Epsom will receive an annual salary of $116,170.

Lynch said after the meeting he was pleased to have Hodgdon stay on.

'Commissioner Hodgdon does her work in a very nonpartisan way. It's data-driven and she has a lot of responsibility,' he said. 'She will be a big asset to any governor serving.'

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