March 28, 2013

District Attorney to tackle domestic violence

Fully-staffed office will allow more focus on initiatives Maeghan Maloney peddled during campaign

By Betty Adams
Staff Writer

AUGUSTA -- District Attorney Maeghan Maloney plans to turn her attention to domestic-violence initiatives she spoke about during her campaign now that the district attorney's office is fully staffed with lawyers.

click image to enlarge

Kennebec and Somerset County District Attorney Maeghan Maloney, center, announced Brent Davis, left, would be first assistant and Fernand LaRochelle, right would be deputy district attorney during a news conference on Thursday outside the Kennebec County Superior Court House in Augusta.

Staff photo by Joe Phelan

Maloney said she and administrators from the Family Violence Project and Menswork, a certified batterers' intervention program, are attending a conference on domestic-violence issues early in April to help shape "a community response to domestic violence, one that really looks at each situation from start to finish."

She also said a high-risk domestic-violence response pilot program is in place in Skowhegan in Somerset County; and if that is successful, she plans to bring the program to Waterville and Augusta in Kennebec County.

In a debate shortly before the election last November, Maloney promised "zero tolerance" on domestic-violence cases.

Maloney, district attorney for both Kennebec and Somerset counties, talked briefly about the issue of domestic violence at a noon news conference she organized Thursday to announce her department leaders. It came just before a training session for her staff on LexisNexis legal research tools.

"The capable people you see here today are experienced and ready to work," Maloney said as the lawyers surrounded her on the granite steps of the Kennebec County Courthouse.

Standing shoulder-to-shoulder with them were law enforcement officers from both counties and former Attorney General Andrew Ketterer, who is now a defense attorney in Norridgewock.

Since January 2012, nine of the 11 lawyers in the Kennebec and Somerset district attorney's office -- with 145 years experience as prosecutors among them -- had left, raising questions about the office's prosecutorial capability.

On Thursday, three months into the elected post, Maloney announced the appointment of Brent Davis, who has been assistant district attorney in Somerset County for 12 years, as first assistant district attorney.

Presenting him with a plaque, Maloney said that when she took office in early January, it became clear to her that Davis "was one of the most respected and well-regarded people in Somerset."

She also appointed Fernand LaRochelle as deputy district attorney. LaRochelle is a former chief of the criminal division of the Maine Office of the Attorney General. He prosecuted homicide cases across the state for more than 30 years.

"I fell extremely blessed to be able to work with him," Maloney said.

She introduced the assistant district attorneys working in the office as well: Tracy DeVoll, Francis Griffin, Carie James, Kate Marshall, Kristin Murray-James, Joelle Pratt, Alisa Ross, Frayla Schoenfeld and David Spencer.

After the brief news conference, Ketterer echoed Maloney's comments about her staff's capability, noting that both LaRochelle and Spencer worked in the criminal division of the Office of the Attorney General during his three terms in that post.

Also, he said that as a defense attorney, he interacts with Davis all the time.

Betty Adams -- 621-5631

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