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Bar News - August 19, 2011

In Memoriam: Hon. Douglas Roberts Gray

Hon. Douglas Roberts Gray, a retired NH Superior Court, passed away in his home in Rye. He was 78.

Judge Gray, a life-long resident of New Hampshire, graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1951 and then served for three years in the US Army. He went on to receive his bachelor of arts from the University of New Hampshire in 1959 and afterward earned his law degree from Boston College Law School in 1965.

His law career started at Griffin, Harrington, Brigham & Taylor in Portsmouth. He later formed the law firm of Taylor & Gray with the late former NH district court judge, Alvin E. Taylor. While continuing to practice law, Judge Gray’s first appointment to the bench was as special justice in the District Court System of NH on a part-time basis from 1973 to 1983. Gov John H. Sununu then appointed him as an associate justice of the NH Superior Court, where he presided full-time until he was elected to serve as senior justice in 1998. There, he presided part-time until his retirement in 2003.

Judge Gray was most notable for presiding over the murder trial of Pamela Smart. He had granted permission for the trial to be broadcast live. In her appeal to the NH Supreme Court she contended that she did not receive a fair trial because of the heavy coverage. However, the court rejected her appeal stating "…We might add that the videotapes have given us an unusual near-firsthand glimpse of the trial judge at work. His commanding presence throughout, shown by his demeanor with counsel and with the jury, was apparent. The defendant’s trial took place in a courtroom dominated not by the media but by the presiding judge."

He had received awards such as the Judicial Fellow Award from the NH Bar Foundation and the Judicial Excellence Award for Professionalism and Ethics from the American Inns of Court of New Hampshire.

Active also in the community, he was a member of the Abenaqui Country Club, Portsmouth Yacht Club and a former member of the Federal Fire Society and Mechanic Fire Society. He was a recreational pilot, loved the outdoors and spending time with his family.

He is survived by this wife of 32 years, Cornelia; four children, Robert Gray, Elizabeth Smith, Jennifer Vukmer and Daniel Gray along with his two step-children, Matthew Wager and Megan Davis. He had 14 grandchildren, one great-grandchild and a brother, Robert Gray.

In honor of our colleague Hon. Douglas Roberts Gray, the NH Bar Association Board of Governors has made a donation to the NH Bar Foundation, 2 Pillsbury Street, Suite 300, Concord, NH 03301.

Supreme Court Rule 42(9) requires all NH admitted attorneys to notify the Bar Association of any address change, home or office.

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