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Manchester board holds off on removing 'interim' from city solicitor's title

New Hampshire Union Leader

November 14. 2017 9:33PM
Former U.S. Attorney Emily Gray Rice listens to a reporter's question after she was introduced as the interim city solicitor at City Hall in Manchester on July 10. (DAVID LANE/UNION LEADER)

MANCHESTER — Former U.S. Attorney Emily Gray Rice, Manchester’s interim city solicitor, may soon be able to drop the ‘interim’ from her job title — but she will have to wait a week, after aldermen voted Tuesday night to take another week before hiring her on a more permanent basis.

Rice was named Manchester’s interim city solicitor back in July, 10 days after veteran solicitor Tom Clark abruptly retired as New Hampshire Attorney General Gordon MacDonald detailed his office’s review of the decisions made by one of Clark’s prosecutors in many cases involving domestic assault or abuse.

This week Mayor Ted Gatsas asked the Board of Mayor and Aldermen to support his nomination of Rice as city solicitor.

“Attorney Rice has done an excellent job transitioning the department since the retirement of the former department head, and will be an invaluable asset to the city going forward,” said Gatsas in his nomination of Rice for the post.

Rice will receive an annual salary of $152,629.25 for the job once aldermen vote on the her nomination next week.

Alderman At Large Dan O’Neil questioned why the board was being asked to approve the nomination the same night it was presented to them, rather than having the nomination lay over two weeks as most nominations do.

“I have no issues with her nomination, but we should follow the process,” said O’Neil. “I’m not questioning her capabilities, but there is no need to suspend the rules tonight. We learned about this through a revised agenda item.”

“I can tell you she’s the best city solicitor I’ve worked with,” said Gatsas. “Sometimes you look to put the proper person in there. I think everyone has had the opportunity to see her fine work over the last few months.”

Alderman Barbara Shaw of Ward 9 suggested a compromise, with aldermen letting the nomination layover one week until the board’s next meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 21.

Alderman Bill Shea of Ward 7 made a motion to approve the nomination Tuesday night, without a layover. That motion failed, with six aldermen voting in favor — Aldermen Pat Long, Elizabeth Moreau, Joseph Kelly Levasseur, Shea, Tom Katsiantonis, and Keith Hirschmann. Opposed were Shaw, O’Neil, Kevin Cavanaugh, Ron Ludwig, Chris Herbert, Tony Sapienza, Bill Barry and Normand Gamache.

The nomination will layover until next week, when board members are likely to approve Rice for the post.

Clark’s retirement announcement came June 30, a day after MacDonald detailed his office’s review of decisions made by one of Clark’s prosecutors in numerous cases involving domestic assault or abuse. MacDonald faulted numerous actions and decisions by the prosecutor, Andrea Muller, whose salary is partially funded by a state grant.

The review found she dropped some charges unnecessarily, she did not follow through when charges were conditionally dropped and her case files lacked necessary paperwork.

Rice has enjoyed a long career as a trial lawyer and public servant, most recently serving as the 56th U.S. Attorney for the District of New Hampshire.

Rice began her career at the Attorney General’s Office, where she became a senior assistant attorney general and bureau chief. Across more than two decades in private practice, Rice co-chaired the Governor’s Judicial Selection Commission, led nonprofit boards, and participated in court and bar committees. She was a member of the adjunct faculty at the UNH School of Law, where she taught pre-trial advocacy and trial advocacy.

Rice earned her B.A. and M.A. degrees at Boston University, and is a graduate of the Northeastern University School of Law.

General News Manchester

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