CONCORD — House speaker Shawn Jasper said Tuesday he “just became aware this morning” that a newly elected state representative who was convicted of a felony for recklessly firing a gun in 2010 has been assigned to the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee.
“That is being worked on this morning,” Jasper said, referring to Rep. Albert “Max” Abramson of Seabrook. Jasper said he had no further information. Abramson said he feels he should remain on the committee because he has “a lot of expertise in self-defense law.”
Abramson was named to the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee earlier this month. All committee assignments were published in the Dec. 19 House calendar.
Abramson, a Republican, was a member of the Seabrook Budget Committee and planning board when he was found guilty in 2012 of one felony count of reckless conduct for shooting a firearm recklessly during a party at his home in 2010. The state Supreme Court rejected his appeal in 2013, choosing not to hear oral arguments in the case.
Abramson maintained his innocence, saying that when a fight broke out at a party in his apartment – a party he said was organized by a roommate – he fired his gun outside, away from the fight, in order to put a stop to it. He said a knife was shown during the fight.
Prosecutors, however, said Abramson should have called police when the fight broke out, rather than fire the weapon.
In an interview Tuesday, Abramson said he did not specifically notify the Speaker’s office of his conviction before asking for a seat on Criminal Justice.
“I thought the whole state knew,” he said. “It’s been in the news so many times.” He also said he did not know the Speaker was looking into his assignment today.
Abramson said he believes he should remain on the Criminal Justice Committee because “I have a lot of expertise ion self-defense law and there is a need for a wide array of viewpoints on the issue.”
He said he recently filed a motion with the Superior Court to re-open the case “based on new evidence, and, if the court turns that down, I will be appealing that ruling. There has been a considerable amount of new evidence that was not heard.”
Abramson was among three people elected in November to represent Seabrook and Hampton Falls. There were five candidates for the three seats, and among those defeated was Democrat Mark Preston, a retired Seabrook police officer who pleaded guilty to a DWI charge in 2011.
Abramson said he believed his constituents were aware of his conviction when they elected him. “It was an obvious self-defense case,” he said.
He said that some of the people in the fight were “violent criminals,” and some have been arrested subsequently. That is why, he said, he is trying to have the case re-opened and his name cleared.
“In the event of a life and death emergency,” Abramson said, “you just don’t have time to go through all the complicated legal details and different definitions and figure out what you are allowed to do and not allowed to do. Self-defense cases are extremely complicated and subjective.”