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Gov. Hassan's Attorney General: Why Joe Foster?

Gov. Maggie Hassan has tapped former state Senate Majority Leader Joe Foster, D-Nashua, to be the state's next attorney general. It was a surprise choice for several reasons.

Foster is a successful and well-respected attorney for the McLane law firm, which bills itself as the state's largest (and best-connected) firm. But the resume that would open many doors for Foster should he seek employment at a bigger firm out of state poses some problems for him as an attorney general nominee.

Most obviously, Foster has no experience as a criminal prosecutor. His career specialty is bankruptcy law. That would be pretty good experience for the governor these days. But the attorney general is the state's top law enforcement officer. As such, he is in charge of investigating police shootings and prosecuting all homicides. Gov. Hassan wants to entrust all state homicide prosecutions to an attorney who has never prosecuted a pickpocket.

And as a business lawyer with numerous high-profile clients, who comes from a huge law firm with many more high-profile clients, Foster is likely to have to recuse himself from many, many cases to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest.

None of this is to suggest that Foster is not a highly capable attorney. It is just that his selection makes one wonder whether Gov. Hassan is after the best possible attorney general or the closest political ally.

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