AG Won’t Re-Try Ex-Sen. Woodburn on Simple Assault, Domestic Violence After Mistrial

Print More

Paula Tracy file photo

Former state Senator Jeffrey Woodburn, right, is pictured with his attorney Mark Sisti of Chichester in Coos Superior Court in Lancaster in this file photo.

Updated to include Jeffrey Woodburn’s reaction.


CONCORD – The state of New Hampshire will not re-try former Democratic state Sen. Jeffrey Woodburn on charges of simple assault and domestic violence, according to a news release Wednesday from Attorney General John Formella.

“(L)eaving Mr. Woodburn to be incarcerated for his previous criminal mischief convictions,” Formella wrote, prompting Woodburn’s attorney to question why Formella would say Woodburn would be jailed when those two convictions are under appeal at the state Supreme Court.

Later in the release, Formella said: “It is anticipated that Mr. Woodburn will be incarcerated for 30 days pursuant to his prior convictions once his appeal of those convictions is concluded.”

Woodburn’s attorney Mark Sisti of Chichester challenged the comment about Woodburn serving 30 days in jail.

“I don’t know why the attorney general said that because that is still on appeal” with the state Supreme Court on the issue of whether the charges should have been tried together, Sisti said.

Sisti otherwise said Formella made the right decision not going forward with a retrial on the simple assault and domestic violence charges during his second trial after a Coos County Superior Court jury couldn’t come to a decision and a mistrial was declared in March.

Woodburn’s former fiancee Emily Jacobs couldn’t be located Wednesday for comment.

Woodburn said: “I feel fully vindicated. First to have the Supreme Court rule that I was wrongly convicted and now to have the Attorney General abandon their 6-year unprecedented, zealous prosecution. What happened to me was wrong but still the corrective nature of our system does work.”

Sisti said he was sure “Woodburn’s very, very relieved. I’m very happy for him.”

The case has been ongoing since 2018 when the state charged Woodburn, who was then a sitting state Senator, with four counts of simple assault, two counts of domestic violence, two counts of criminal mischief, and one count of criminal trespass, all misdemeanors. They related to a series of incidents between Woodburn and Jacobs, who was head of the Coos County Democratic Committee and running for Coos County Treasurer at the time.

After a trial in May of 2021, a Coos County Superior Court jury found Woodburn guilty of simple assault and domestic violence for a December 2017 biting incident. The jury also found him guilty of two counts of criminal mischief and acquitted Woodburn of the remaining charges. Woodburn was sentenced to serve a term of 12 months in the house of corrections, with all but 30 days suspended, on the criminal mischief convictions.

In March of 2023, the New Hampshire Supreme Court reversed and remanded the simple assault and domestic violence convictions for re-trial, ruling that the trial court improperly failed to instruct the jury on self-defense. After a re-trial on those charges, concluding on March 14, 2024, a second Coos County Superior Court jury was unable to reach a verdict, resulting in a mistrial.

Formella said: “After prosecuting this case for nearly six years and two jury trials, I do not reach this decision lightly. Domestic violence is a serious, ongoing issue that must be addressed with the utmost care and resolve. The Department of Justice, including the Criminal Justice Bureau and the Office of Victim Witness Assistance, is committed to upholding the law and supporting victims of domestic violence throughout the State of New Hampshire.

 “The State has tried Mr. Woodburn twice and secured convictions on certain charges against him. Taking into consideration the recent mistrial after a hung jury on several remaining charges, as well as other relevant factors, I have made the decision to not bring these remaining charges against Mr. Woodburn to trial a third time. I want to thank the victim in this case for her courage and strength in coming forward and testifying about the personal and intimate details of her relationship with Mr. Woodburn in a public courtroom. We will continue to stand with the victim as she and her loved ones take the time they need to heal,” Formella said.

Comments are closed.