Chief justice pick cites experience to lead in transition
By HOLLY RAMER
Feb. 26, 2018
CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — Judge Robert Lynn told the Executive Council on Monday that he has both the judicial and administrative experience to hit the ground running and lead the New Hampshire Supreme Court through a time of transition.
Republican Gov. Chris Sununu nominated Lynn earlier this month to replace Chief Justice Linda Dalianis, who is retiring April 1 after reaching the mandatory retirement age of 70. Her departure follows the retirement of Justice Carol Ann Conboy last year. Lynn himself turns 70 in about a year and a half.
"I wish I was younger or that the Constitution didn't set the 70 age limit for judicial retirement because I love being a judge," he said.
"The Supreme Court is in a period of transition. There is no question that the retirements of Justice Conboy and now Chief Justice Dalianis represent major losses of exceptional judicial talent and experience," he said at his public hearing. "You have my commitment that if you confirm me I will devote all my energies to preserving, protecting and enhancing our judicial system."
Raised by his mother and great-grandmother in Connecticut, Lynn was the first member of his family to graduate from high school. He was working as a drug enforcement agent when he started law school, and later worked as a federal prosecutor before becoming a Superior Court judge in 1992. He was nominated to the state Supreme Court in 2010 by Democratic Gov. John Lynch.
Colleagues throughout the court system praised Lynn as a talented legal analyst, committed to treating everyone with respect. Though an anonymous court staffer sent a letter to the council describing him as arrogant and intimidating, he and others strongly disagreed.
Lynn said the letter raised concerns that staffers felt intimidated and fearful of being retaliated against. "That is completely not the case," he said.
Lynn said while he had a reputation as being "kind of a hard ass" in sentencing criminals as a trial judge, he tries to reach consensus with his colleagues and does not demand that others fall in line. Anne Zinken, a supervisory law clerk at the court, described him as warm, personable and approachable. Conboy, whose office was next to Lynn's, agreed.
"From my perspective, he treated every staff member with the utmost of respect," she said. "I want you to know, wherever this anonymous criticism came from, it has no basis in my experience. I can think of no worthier candidate for this important position."
Lynn said his priorities as chief justice would include further implementation of the judicial system's switch electronic filing and record-keeping and working with the education department to revive the understanding of civics among young people.