NH AG wants grievance committee to pull back
CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — Attorney General Michael Delaney wants a House committee to back away from questioning New Hampshire workers in charge of investigating abuse and neglect allegations involving children.
Delaney wrote House Speaker William O’Brien on Monday raising concerns with questions the Redress of Grievance Committee sent to the Division for Children Youth and Families, which investigates abuse and neglect allegations. Delaney said the questions reflect a committee bias against state workers who must investigate highly emotional situations.
O’Brien fired back that citizens have a right to petition the Legislature for help. He said Delaney was more interested in “playing politics than administering justice.”
“The attorney general’s desire to deny our residents this constitutional right is baffling and inconsistent with accountable government,” O’Brien said in a statement.
Delaney said he advised the division not to respond to the committee’s questions while he sought to get it to withdraw them.
He also said the House’s recent decision to allow committees to subpoena people could create a conflict for workers who are bound by state law to keep the investigations confidential.
“State officials will be placed in the unenviable position of having to decide whether to honor a legislative subpoena or adhere to the laws of confidentiality,” he wrote.
Delaney said many of the petitions are by people involved in years of litigation with some having cases still pending in court.
O’Brien created the grievance committee to hear complaints from the public. The committee also has looked into complaints about judges and marital masters. But Delaney said the committee is an impediment to protecting children because the quasi-judicial proceedings are one-sided and without the safeguards afforded the accused in court.
“Mere accusation is treated as truth,” he wrote. “The process does not afford those who are the subject of petitions a reasonable opportunity to respond to the allegations of wrongdoing.”