Sununu to tap attorney general as state Supreme Court chief

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — Republican Gov. Chris Sununu said Tuesday that he has tapped Attorney General Gordon MacDonald to become the next chief justice of the New Hampshire Supreme Court.

If confirmed by the Executive Council, MacDonald would move from being the state’s top prosecutor to its top judge. He would succeed Chief Justice Bob Lynn, whose last day will be Aug. 23 as he nears the mandatory retirement age.

MacDonald has served as attorney general since April 2017 after a long career in private practice. As attorney general, he helped establish the first Civil Rights Unit in the state Department of Justice and led the effort to create a new solicitor general position. Sununu, who plans to make the nomination Wednesday, said MacDonald has displayed leadership and independence as attorney general and would bring unparalleled legal talents and a fair-minded approach to the judicial branch.

“Gordon has served this State with distinction as Attorney General for the last two years, and I am honored to nominate him to lead our State’s highest court,” he said in a statement. “Gordon has never been afraid to follow the path or take the action that he believes is right, even when that course may not be the easiest and even when some, including myself, may disagree with him.”

MacDonald is a graduate of Dartmouth College and Cornell Law School who specialized in commercial and health care litigation as a partner in the Manchester firm Nixon Peabody LLP. In a statement, he called the nomination “truly humbling.”

“The New Hampshire judiciary plays a vital role in the lives of the people of our state,” MacDonald said.

Though Lynn has been on the court since 2010, he only took over as chief justice in April of last year, during a time of transition. He replaced Chief Justice Linda Dalianis, who also reached the mandatory retirement age of 70. The previous year, Justice Anna Barbara Hantz Marconi replaced the retiring Justice Carol Ann Conboy.

Lynn, in a statement, said he has known MacDonald for many years and called him a great person and outstanding lawyer.

“He is smart, hardworking, and thoughtful. His extensive experience in private law practice, his leadership of the Attorney General’s Office - probably the State’s largest law firm, his commitment to public service, and his temperament and fair mindedness make him eminently well-qualified to serve as the next Chief Justice of the New Hampshire Supreme Court,” he said.