Longtime Sullivan County prosecutor won’t seek reelection

Sullivan County Attorney Marc Hathaway speaks to reporters following an arraignment in Sullivan Superior Court in Newport, N.H., on July 25, 2019. Hathaway, who has been the county's lead prosecutor for 38 years, is not running for reelection. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Sullivan County Attorney Marc Hathaway speaks to reporters following an arraignment in Sullivan Superior Court in Newport, N.H., on July 25, 2019. Hathaway, who has been the county's lead prosecutor for 38 years, is not running for reelection. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Vall News file photo — Geoff Hansen

By PATRICK O’GRADY

Valley News Correspondent

Published: 06-17-2024 6:52 PM

Modified: 06-18-2024 9:52 AM


NEWPORT — After 38 years as Sullivan County’s first full-time prosecutor, Marc Hathaway will not seek re-election in November for another two-year term.

Hathaway, 68, said Monday the time was right for him to step away and likely turn the office over to Christine Hilliard, the county’s deputy prosecutor the last six years.

As of Monday, Hilliard, a Democrat, was the only person to file for the county attorney position with the Secretary of State’s Office.

“She has my support,” Hathaway, a Republican, said. “She is wonderfully capable, of high integrity and a high performer. I am confident in her ability to move the county forward.

“It’s been 38 years and I am in a position where I can leave the county in good hands,” he said.

Hathaway added that he is in good health and wants to do other things in his time.

Raised in Connecticut, Hathaway earned his undergraduate degree and law degree in Ohio. He was familiar with Sullivan County, where he vacationed with his parents in Unity while growing up, when he opened a law office handling everything from criminal defense to divorce and some real estate.

When the decision was made to expand the county prosecutor’s office to full-time, Hathaway ran and won. He never faced a serious challenge in the state’s biennial elections.

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The changes in law enforcement and crime in general since his first day on Jan.1, 1987, have been significant, Hathaway said. Two of the biggest are the prevalence of technology and drug crime.

More technology has meant there is often a lot more information that has to be gathered and reviewed.

When he first started as a defense attorney and then the county prosecutor, Hathaway said, it was not uncommon for the police report for something like a driving under the influence charge to be written by the officer on the back of the ticket.

“That was mostly how it was done across the state,” he said.

Today, the process is much more complex and often includes a multiple page police report, one or more videos of the incident, a dispatcher report and all the paperwork to document tests associated with the procedures in place to obtain the suspect’s blood alcohol level. All of that additional information requires more time to review and prosecute a case.

“It is now a very complicated and time consuming analysis,” Hathaway said. “If you end up with a contested DUI, you at some point have to look at all that. You have cruiser cams running, body cams running. That time adds up.”

Additionally, social media geolocation data has added another layer to investigations, he said.

“You can envision a circumstance with almost any investigation you may be considering some kind of social media search warrant or some kind of electronic media search warrant,” he said. “There is simply more information being collected from more places.”

Surveillance cameras from government sources, private property and commercial location also are relied on to collect evidence

“You can often recover valuable pieces of information on video,” Hathaway said.

What that means for his office is a more labor intensive process to review evidence.

“If a case is contested deeply, you have to look at all of or a large part of it and that is a massive time suck,” Hathaway said.

With respect to dangerous drugs, Hathaway said his office handled mostly marijuana and some cocaine cases in his early years. Things took a turn for the worse in the 1990s.

Hathaway recalled his major case for heroin: a woman and her two sons came to the area and began dealing. The drug quickly became a problem and remains one today.

“That drug has never released its grasp since it was delivered up here. That was a shock when we started seeing that,” Hathaway said.

Heroin and now fentanyl continue to plague the area. “We went after that and have been consistently working on the drug problem ever since.”

While prosecution is important, Hathaway said Sullivan County has led the way with its approach to the treatment.

“I am proud of how Sullivan County has invested again and again in the rehabilitation component in sentencing,” Hathaway said.

He said the county, with input from judges, community partners and his office, hired consultants and did inmate profiles to come up with a strategy beyond incarceration. What came out of that was the community corrections center, separate from the jail, built in 2006.

Sentencing includes an intense treatment program. Subsequent to that, the county opened the Sullivan House in downtown Claremont a few years ago. It provides transitional housing for those who have successfully completed the drug treatment program at the corrections center.

Hathaway said by investing in treatment programs, the county rewards people, helps them return successfully to the community and that in turn reduces the average daily population in the jail, where there had been an overcrowding problem.

When asked to sum up his approach in private practice compared to being a government prosecutor, Hathaway said in private practice, you have to follow your client’s wishes but as the county prosecutor is it more direct.

“You are working, always, to do what you know is the right thing for your community and trying to develop the right policies,” he said.

Patrick O’Grady can be reached at pogclmt@gmail.com.