Manchester's City Solicitor Tom Clark resigns in light of domestic violence prosecutions
June 30. 2017 5:51PM
Jettisoned justice?Following are questionable actions in several domestic-related criminal cases handled by city prosecutor Andrea Muller:
• No explanation for dropping assault charges involving a strangulation. Defendant had a history of drug use and failure to attend drug treatment.
• Six domestic violence charges dropped after an expert said the defendant had “cultural incompetence” with regard to the U.S. justice system and was not restorable.
• Muller takes a mother at her word who said her son suffered from traumatic brain injury.
• Charges dropped on condition of drug treatment. Prosecutor notified in February that defendant had not followed through, but took no action.
Source: New Hampshire attorney general.
MANCHESTER — Mayor Ted Gatsas announced Friday the abrupt retirement of veteran City Solicitor Tom Clark, whose office came under recent criticism for failure of a prosecutor to get tough on suspects charged with domestic-related crimes.
Clark, who at $161,100 is one of the highest paid city employees, will retire effective July 31, according to a statement released by Gatsas and Pat Long, the chairman of aldermen, early Friday evening. He has asked to be relieved of administrative duties until then, according to the statement.
Clark has been city solicitor for 22 years.
The resignation came a day after New Hampshire Attorney General Gordon MacDonald detailed his office’s review of the 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.
On Friday morning, Manchester Police Chief Nick Willard weighed in. Willard said he was troubled by the inability of the City Solicitor’s Office to successfully prosecute domestic-related crimes to the fullest extent of the law.
“Their repeated failure to address our expressed concerns made it necessary for me to ask the Attorney General’s office for a review of their prosecutorial practices,” Willard said in a statement.
Although Manchester police investigate crimes in Manchester, they turn over most prosecutions to one of two entities: felonies are prosecuted at the county level; misdemeanor cases — which include most domestic violence cases — are handled by the City Solicitor’s Office.
Gatsas said he will supervise the day-to-day activities of the City Solicitor’s Office for the time being.
Meanwhile, Gatsas and Long said they will work with MacDonald’s office and Hillsborough County Attorney Dennis Hogan to bring forward a plan for oversight of the City Solicitor’s Office.
A plan should surface on or before the next meeting of aldermen, which is scheduled for July 18, they said.
Correspondence released Thursday details recent efforts by the attorney general to address the police department’s complaints about the prosecution of domestic matters.
On June 12, Associate Attorney General Jane Young detailed her issues with Muller in a letter to Clark. She told Clark to review all cases where Muller conditionally dropped criminal charges in domestic related cases.
Young told Clark to refile criminal charges against any defendant who had not followed through on conditions, which usually involved counseling or therapy. Young gave Clark a deadline: June 21, and she copied her letter to Gatsas.
Young and Assistant Attorney General Lisa Wolford visited Clark’s office on June 22 and reviewed 66 of Muller’s files. They determined that Clark had not done what Young had asked.
That prompted MacDonald’s letter, dated Thursday. The attorney general told Clark that his office “has failed its mission to prosecute successfully domestic violence cases and to provide assistance and support to victims of domestic violence crimes.”
Gatsas and aldermen met that night, and Gatsas and Long later announced that “potential terminations” in Clark’s office were possible.
According to New Hampshire Union Leader research:
• Muller joined the city solicitor’s office in 2012, when she was hired with grant money to focus on domestic-related crime. She had held a similar position with the Hillsborough County Attorney’s Office, according to Union Leader archives.
• She currently earns $75,000 a year, according to the city Human Resources Department.
• Muller is married to Greg Muller, another City Solicitor prosecutor. He earns $95,000 a year.
• Andrea Muller dropped a case involving Nathan Lamontagne, the accomplice to the 2012 home invasion in Bedford that involved brutal attacks against Dr. Eduardo Quesada and his wife, Sonia. According to Union Leader archives, Muller dropped a domestic-violence assault charge against Lamontagne after his girlfriend recanted her statement. It was unclear when the alleged abuse took place.
Reached by telephone Friday, Muller said she would not comment at this time.
In his statement, Willard said he is proud of the advocates and police who raised issue with the prosecutions.
“I am deeply sorry to any victim who did not get the services or protection they deserved, or even worse, felt revictimized by their treatment,” Willard said.