Rockingham county attorney

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Rockingham County attorney candidates share views on racial justice

Patricia Conway, left, and Steve Briden are competing for the Rockingham County Attorney position.

BRENTWOOD – The two candidates for Rockingham County attorney were recently grilled on racial inequity within the criminal justice system via a questionnaire by the American Civil Liberties Union of New Hampshire.

The ACLU sent questionnaires to all county attorney candidates across the state ahead of the upcoming election, where they queried the candidates on systemic racism, the disproportionate incarceration of people of color, police reform, decriminalization of sex work, poverty and homelessness.

“Prosecutors in New Hampshire have the power to continue disproportionately flooding jails and prisons – but they also have the power to champion and enact criminal legal reform,” said Joseph Lascaze, smart justice organizer at the ACLU of New Hampshire, in a statement. “It is imperative that county attorneys in the Granite State acknowledge the existence of systemic racism in our criminal legal system and explain how they will pursue justice for all to the people of New Hampshire.”

The ACLU asserts that the most powerful person in the criminal justice system is a local county attorney, because they decide who is charged, the severity of those charges, or if any charges are filed.

In Rockingham County, Republican incumbent Patricia Conway is being challenged by Democrat Steven Briden. Conway, of Salem, was elected Rockingham County Attorney in 2014, and Briden, of Exeter, currently serves as the Deputy County Attorney for Carroll County.

Asked if they believe systemic racism in the criminal legal system in New Hampshire is real, Conway responded, “I believe that some people in our society may be predisposed to racism based on how that person was raised and what that particular person has been exposed to while on this earth. Thus, it is possible that that there are people working in the criminal justice system that are racist. As the Rockingham County Attorney, I work hard to ensure that all people involved in the criminal justice system are treated fairly and justly regardless of the person’s race.”

Briden answered, “I believe that systemic racism is present across American society generally, therefore any government structure is going to have issues with systemic racism and bigotry. New Hampshire has serious systemic issues regarding wealth inequality, and access to housing, to child care, to a quality education. Ultimately those issues are significant drivers of criminal conduct in some of the most frequently seen criminal offenses. These issues of inequality are at their worst in the most diverse areas of New Hampshire, which I believe drives some of the disparate outcomes for people of color.”

The ACLU asked what role prosecutors have played in the disproportionate incarceration of people of color in New Hampshire.

Recent data reported by the Concord Monitor showed Black individuals make up 1.7% of the state’s population, but represent 7% of the prison and jail population. Hispanic individuals make up 4% of the state’s population, but represent 7% of the prison and jail population.

“At the Rockingham County Attorney’s Office, we do not consider a person’s race and/or color when determining the appropriate charge or sentence for a particular defendant,” Conway said. “My prosecutors are trained to consider the facts of the case, the defendant’s criminal history, the defendant’s background (such as substance use disorder, mental health issues and/or past trauma) as well as the victim’s injuries and input when determining the appropriate and just charge and sentence. We work tremendously hard to do the right thing for the community in every case.”

Conway said she will “continue to train the employees in my office on the subject of racism.”

Briden said, “The statistics show that people of color are incarcerated at disproportionate rates, and while judges have the final say in sentencing, prosecutors directly impact incarceration rates. Prosecutors have an incredible amount of discretion in sentencing, so if there are issues of disproportionate incarceration, prosecutors must share in the blame for that.”

Briden said if elected, he will require his prosecutors “take part in mandatory implicit bias trainings.”

The ACLU also asked if the candidates believe incarceration solves issues of drug use, poverty or homelessness.

Conway said incarceration, “in and of itself,” does not solve these issues. Though the state prison and Rockingham County jail offer “very good substance use disorder treatment programs," she said, ”eventually all inmates are released into our community."

“If inmates or defendants do not have a stable place to live, continued treatment and the support of our community, sadly they will not succeed in living a sober, happy and productive life,” Conway said. “As county attorney I support and will continue to support transitional housing. Transitional housing will offer our inmates a safe, sober and supportive environment to continue in their rehabilitation. The Rockingham County commissioners and superintendent of the House of Corrections are all supportive of transitional housing. As a team, the commissioners, superintendent and myself are working on making transitional housing an option for inmates in Rockingham County.”

Briden said he does not believe in “criminalizing poverty or homelessness in any way.”

For example, Briden said he does not support panhandling laws, and believes “that our communities would be much better off if we invested money in providing assistance to those in poverty and housing to those in need as opposed to spending money to enforce these laws and ordinances and to incarcerate individuals who simply have nowhere to live.”

“As county attorney, I would instruct my attorneys to place a major focus on rehabilitation and treatment, as opposed to any punitive sentences when it comes to issues of substance abuse,” Briden said. “We would make sure that our diversion program is utilized to its fullest potential to redirect people out of court and into treatment and rehabilitation programs."

For the candidates’ full responses, visit

Patricia Conway

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Her Nomination Under Fire, Conway Withdraws Bid To Become N.H. Judge

Rockingham County Attorney Patricia Conway has given up her bid to be a New Hampshire Superior Court judge.

Gov. Chris Sununu's nomination of Conway had come under scrutiny over multiple issues.

The latest issue facing Conway was whether in 2008 she improperly voted in Atkinson, where her then-elderly parent lived, even though she resided in Salem.

This issue was first raised by Executive Councilor Cinde Warmington, the lone Democrat on the five-member council.  But some Republicans, including New Hampshire Republican National Committeeman Chris Ager, joined Warmington in calling for an investigation.

Conway's confirmation faced other problems. The career prosecutor was strongly opposed by gun rights groups.

And the New Hampshire Bar Association had also questioned Conway's fitness, writing to the governor and council earlier this month expressing reservations about her impartiality and fairness.

Conway, a Republican, was elected Rockingham County Attorney in 2014, and won reelection three times.

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Rockingham County Lawyers

Finding the Right Attorney in Rockingham County, NH

Rockingham County has been touted as one of the best places in the country for people to buy a home, start a family, and start their own businesses. But even with its picturesque downtown area and thriving infrastructure, legal issues can arise in Rockingham, whether it’s a devastating car accident, an argument that gets physical, or a family breaking up due to divorce. When any of these things happen, you need the right attorneys fighting for you and your rights. You need DiBella Law Offices, P.C.

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Personal Injury Claims in NH

As a full-service legal firm, we’re very successful with helping New Hampshire clients with personal injury claims. Personal injury claims rely on the legal concept of negligence. Negligence occurs when one individual has acted recklessly or carelessly and those actions injure another person. There are many areas of personal injury law, including:

  • Car accidents
  • Truck accidents
  • Motorcycle accidents
  • Pedestrian accidents
  • Dog bites
  • Premises liability
  • Product liability
  • Medical malpractice
  • Wrongful death

There are also times when criminal acts cause personal injury. For instance, someone who has been assaulted may wish to press criminal charges against the perpetrator. If found guilty, the accused will likely be sentenced to community service, fines, or jail time. The victim may also wish to file a civil lawsuit against the accused. In these cases, a Rockingham County personal injury attorney will represent the injured party and a defense attorney will represent the accused. The case will either be settled or tried in civil court. If a majority of the jurors (9/12) decide the accused is responsible, he or she will be required to pay compensation directly to the victim.

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Criminal Defense Attorneys in NH

In addition to representing individuals who have been injured due to someone else’s negligence, we also represent those whose rights and freedoms are at stake. There are times when people are charged or arrested for a crime they did not commit, or a law that was broken unknowingly. Other times, the police conduct investigations improperly, and you pay the price. There are defenses to these crimes, and a knowledgeable Rockingham County criminal defense attorney can use them to help you regain your freedom. Some of the criminal charges that we defend individuals from are:

  • Drunk driving, including OUI, DUI, and DWI
  • Drug crimes, including possession and distribution
  • Theft crimes, including shoplifting and fraud
  • Assaults and violent crimes
  • Domestic violence, including criminal charges and restraining orders

Essentially OUI, DUI, and DWI all mean the same thing: driving while under the influence of alcohol. OUI stands for "operating under the influence," DUI means "driving under the influence," and DWI means "driving while impaired." Your blood alcohol content at the time of arrest will determine which crime you are charged with.

Felonies vs. Misdemeanors in NH

Many times, people think that smaller crimes such as drug possession are automatically misdemeanors, while violent crimes, such as abuse or murder, are felonies. In some cases, this may be true, but not always. In New Hampshire, felonies are divided into Class A and Class B.

Incarceration for a Class B felony, which may include computer fraud, minor drug possession, a fourth DWI, or theft of property over $500 but less than $1,000, can last from three and a half years to a maximum of seven years.

Incarceration for a Class A felony, which may include murder, manslaughter, kidnapping, serious assault, sex crimes, and more, can last from seven and a half to a maximum of 15 years.

Either is very serious, so if you are arrested and it looks like you will be facing a felony charge, speak to a criminal defense attorney immediately.

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Get Help from an Experienced Rockingham County Attorney

At DiBella Law Offices, P.C., we handle many personal injury and criminal cases, but we also handle other types of claims as well. As a full-service legal firm, we help clients with divorce and child custody, wrongful death, medical malpractice, real estate transactions, and more. When it happens in Rockingham County, we know how to fight for our clients’ rights and get them the compensation they deserve.

If you want to file for divorce or separation, had an accident in Rockingham County that was caused by someone else’s negligence, or need a defense lawyer for a criminal charge, contact the attorneys at DiBella Law Offices, P.C., at (978) 327-5140. We are the New Hampshire attorneys who can help you with your case, and we want to review yours today.

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P.O. Box 896
Kingston NH 03848
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Attorney rockingham county

Commonwealth's Attorney

About the Office


The Commonwealth’s Attorney is an elected official who is the chief law enforcement officer of a city, town, or county within Virginia.  The office, as established by the Virginia Constitution and Code of Virginia, has a primary duty to prosecute all felonies and most misdemeanors charged within the jurisdiction.

Rockingham County, it's constituent municipalities, and the City of Harrisonburg are served by one Commonwealth’s Attorney who is aided by twelve Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorneys appointed by her.  These prosecutors represent the people in criminal matters brought before the General District, Juvenile and Domestic Relations, and Circuit Courts of Rockingham County and the City of Harrisonburg.  

The Commonwealth’s Attorney is committed to supporting the rights of those affected by criminal behavior and offers a comprehensive Victim Witness Program staffed by highly trained advocates.  They offer support, resources, and referrals throughout the criminal justice process.           

If you are a witness in a case and want to confirm your appearance, please contact our office at (540) 564-3350 before 5pm the day before the hearing.  Please have your subpoena available to facilitate any inquiry.

Please direct FOIA and U-Visa requests to Christopher Bean, Deputy Commonwealth's Attorney at [email protected] or the address to the right of the page.

Announcement of probe into N.H. Rockingham County Attorney

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