Four prosecutors out, four in at Hillsborough County Attorney office

Mark Hayward, The New Hampshire Union Leader, Manchester
·3 min read

Apr. 5—Four prosecutors will leave the Hillsborough County Attorney Office this month, one with decades of experience and another who was the lead prosecutor under former County Attorney Michael Conlon.

Meanwhile, four other prosecutors have joined the office, including Lynne Blankenbeker, a former Republican state representative and one-time candidate for Congress, said County Attorney John Coughlin.

Coughlin discussed the realignments last week. It is the second wave of changes in his office, the largest office of county prosecutors in the state.

"With 30 lawyers, you're always going to have some turnover," said Coughlin, a Republican, retired District Court judge and county attorney for a brief period in the 2000s. "Part of our responsibility and obligation is as people move along in their career we have to encourage that and get them where they need to go."

Four prosecutors are leaving:

Nicole Schultz-Price, who had been the first-assistant in the Manchester office under Democrat Conlon. Coughlin had demoted her shortly after taking office, but she remained head of the office's prestigious Major Crime Unit. "We're accepting her resignation. She's moving on to other opportunities. She will be missed," Coughlin said.

Andrew Ouellette, who had been in the office for decades and is retiring. Ouellette was the last prosecutor dating back to the days of longstanding County Attorney Peter McDonough, who lost in 2002. Ouellette headed the Special Victims Unit, which concentrated on sexual and domestic abuse. "Andy set a really high bar. The expectation for whoever takes over is going to be very high," Coughlin said.

Amy Manchester, who had been in the office for about three years and is taking a job as a Manchester city prosecutor. She worked in the Early Case Resolution unit, a fast-paced unit where prosecutors looked to make quick deals. "We do have a heavy case load," Coughlin said. "I think it was a good fit for her and her family."

Benjamin Doskocil, a Navy reservist who had been with the office for about two years and worked in the Major Crime Unit. Doskocil is joining a tech startup.

As of last week, most of the newly hired prosecutors had joined the office, and the prosecutor corps was at full staff, Coughlin said.

But as the prosecutors start to leave this month, he will have three vacancies to fill.

He has also asked county leaders to fund two more prosecutors, two legal secretaries and a victim witness advocate.

If approved, those five positions will bring the Hillsborough County caseload close to those of other counties, Coughlin said.

The four new hires are:

Lynne Blankenbeker, a Navy captain and intensive care unit nurse, who served on the USNS Comfort in New York harbor last year during the pandemic. Coughlin said she has no criminal experience, but her medical background will help with her assignment to the Drug Unit. She started about a month ago. Her daughter, Shannon Blankenbeker, was announced as a hire in February.

Michele Battaglia, an experienced prosecutor who has worked with Hillsborough County and the City of Manchester. She will revitalize the Early Case Resolution Unit in the Nashua office, Coughlin said.

Jonathan Raiche, who worked as an assistant state attorney in Florida for seven years. He will join the Major Crime Unit.

Elena Brander, who graduated from the UNH School of Law as a Daniel Webster Scholar, which allowed her to bypass the New Hampshire bar exam. She worked with the Suffolk County District Attorney in Boston before taking the Hillsborough County job.