Mar 12, 2014
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AG eyes whether credibility issue may undermine some Rockingham County convictions
The employee is Tara Longo, a victim-witness coordinator who was placed on administrative leave Nov. 6 in the wake of state and federal investigation into the county attorney's office, according to interviews and court records.
Longo testified in the March 2006 trial of Harold Baird, then a 70-year-old Danville man with sexual assault convictions from 1974 and 1990, according to interviews and a review of court records.
A judge sentenced Baird, now 77, to serve 40 to 80 years in state prison.
Longo testified for the state to rebut claims by Baird's attorney, Rodkey Craighead, that the victim's testimony had been coached.
"I am aware of the issue and this office takes that issue very seriously," Boffetti said. "We will fulfill our ethical obligations."
She is one of three victim-witness coordinators that work in the Rockingham County Attorney's Office. Their duties include guiding victims of crime through the criminal justice process, including plea hearings and trials.
Their job status has not changed as of Wednesday.
"I am aware of that e-mail, and I can confirm that it is accurate," Associate Attorney General Jane Young said, declining to comment about the investigation.
"From my perspective, this has no negative impact on my client," he said. "My client had no obligation to testify and make a disclosure."
"It has nothing to do with Tara at all," Bernstein said. "It has to do with whether the Attorney General, Jim Reams or Tom Reid had an ethical obligation to disclose it."
He said that he was aware of one trial where Longo testified, but added that the decision to put her on the witness stand was made "on the fly" and without his permission.
Reams said he believes that team leaders – prosecutors who provide some oversight in the office – were notified about Longo's issue.
Schulman said that in his 28 years of practicing law, he has seen nothing like the investigation and legal disputes unfolding with the Rockingham County Attorney's Office.
But New Hampshire's courts have largely viewed evidence that is favorable to a defendant as a constitutional right, according to Charles Temple, director of the Criminal Practice Clinic at the University of New Hampshire School of Law.
"It's a continuing obligation," he said.
No criminal charges have been filed in the county attorney probe. Reams is due back in court today to contest his temporary suspension by Attorney General Joe Foster.
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