New Hampshire Supreme Court Rejects Woodburn’s Request For Public Defender In Appeal

Former state Sen. Jeff Woodburn, D-Whitefield, seen here at Coos Superior Court in July 2021. (Photo by Robert Blechl)

Following an appeal to the New Hampshire Supreme Court in an effort to overturn his domestic violence conviction, the high court has rejected a motion by ex-state Sen. Jeffrey Woodburn for the court to appoint him a public defender to represent him during the appeals process.

The court also required Woodburn to pay a deposit of $4,262.50 by Sept. 9 for preparing his appeal transcript, or his appeal would be dismissed.

According to the new court order, Woodburn’s request for a lawyer was filed as confidential but did not include a motion to seal as court rules require.

If he sought confidential treatment of his request for a lawyer, he had until Sept. 8 to file a motion to seal it.

On Monday, The Caledonian-Record obtained a copy of the Supreme Court’s Aug. 30 denial, which came five days after the court accepted Woodburn’s appeal.

In the order, Associate Supreme Court Justice Anna Hantz Marconi wrote. “The defendant’s motion to appoint counsel on appeal is denied because his request for a lawyer discloses significant equity in real estate and, therefore, fails to establish indigence.”

The Supreme Court did accept the withdrawal of Donna Brown, Woodburn’s trial attorney at Coos Superior Court, where he was convicted by a jury on two Class A misdemeanor counts of domestic violence and simple assault and two Class A misdemeanor counts of criminal mischief and found not guilty of one count of domestic violence simple assault, three counts of simple assault, and one count of criminal trespass, all also Class A misdemeanors.

During his sentencing, Brown said Woodburn had gone through much of his savings during the course of his criminal case.

For his appeal, Woodburn sought an appellate defender, meaning Brown would no longer represent him.

“Accordingly, the defendant is deemed to be representing himself on appeal, unless an attorney should later file an appearance on his behalf,” Hantz Marconi said in the Aug. 30 Supreme Court order.

Woodburn was sentenced on July 13 to a total of 60 days in jail at the Coos County House of Corrections, but the imposing of that sentence was stayed pending the outcome of the appeal, which could take up to a year before the Supreme Court issues a decision following oral arguments.

Woodburn’s appeal argues that the trial court erred by excluding from a jury certain evidence that would have spoken to his case for self-defense and to the credibility of the victim, Emily Jacobs, his ex-fiancee.

In excluding the evidence, the judge at a pre-trial hearing in May said Jacobs was never charged with a crime and that any physical blocking she had done to Woodburn did not occur during the time of his charged conduct and would have unfairly biased and confused a jury if presented.

A direct inquiry with the court regarding the official status of Woodburn’s appeal and confirmation as to whether he paid the $4,262.50 transcript fee was still pending as of press time Monday.

For the appeal status, the court needs to first receive a notice of payment or non-payment from eScribers, the payment system that accepts checks, money orders, or credit cards.

That process could take at least a few days.

On Monday, Woodburn was asked via email by The Caledonian-Record if he has made the required payment and if he is continuing or ending the appeal.

“I did pay for the transcripts,” responded Woodburn.

The 56-year-old Democrat from Whitefield and one-time Senate minority leader served three terms in the New Hampshire Senate before losing his bid for a fourth term in the November 2018 general election, three months after his arrest.


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