Calais DA’s office loses veteran staffer

Posted Aug. 31, 2008, at 11:25 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 29, 2011, at 7:20 a.m.

CALAIS, Maine — For 32 years, Nancy Marshall made the men and women she worked for look good.

As the administrative assistant in the local prosecutor’s office, Marshall, 54, has seen assistant district attorneys come and go: 11, to be exact.

Her last day was Friday. She retired to spend more time gardening and taking pictures.

But Marshall, 54, has been the steady mooring in the Calais office, where her most recent boss has been First Assistant District Attorney Paul Cavanaugh. (The district attorney for all of Washington and Hancock counties is based in Ellsworth.)

“Like any other profession, you have to have good staff,” Cavanaugh said. “It makes all of us look better. It helps the system, it helps the victims, it helps law enforcement when somebody could shepherd us through,” he said.

Washington County has two assistant district attorney offices; the other is in Machias.

Being in the prosecutor’s office was not a childhood dream.

Born and reared in Charlotte, Marshall lived a long time in Pembroke, but now lives with her husband, Mike, in Princeton. She graduated from the University of Maine at Machias with a degree in elementary education. “I was really kind of turned off by teaching after doing student teaching,” she said.

So Marshall found a job as a dispatcher for the Washington County Sheriff’s Department, where she remained for 3½ years. In those days, the sheriff and his wife lived at the jail and she cooked for the prisoners.

“I was dispatching and the office was in the jail. And I remember when [the sheriff’s wife] had stuff left over she’d ask me if I wanted to have like a bowl of pea soup or something,” she said with a smile.

Marshall then was hired as a secretary in the prosecutor’s office in Calais.

When she started, the office was in basement of the Calais City Building. Later, it moved to the second floor. It eventually found a permanent home on South Street.

She has worked for Cavanaugh the longest of all the assistant district attorneys.

When she started, Marshall said, complaints were typed on a typewriter with lots of carbon copies. Now everything is on computers connected to computers in Machias and Ellsworth.

Over the years she has seen a lot of cases come across her desk. She said the most difficult were the homicides, which initially are handled by the assistant district attorney’s office; fatal accidents; and child abuse cases.

Marshall hated seeing the pictures taken at the scene or of the victims. “Sometimes if Paul mentions it I don’t look … because I have looked at some and you just can’t get them out of your head.”

Asked if she ever had to deal with cases involving her family, she said, “Oh, sure. I do have a lot of relatives so I have seen relatives come through here,” but knowing Marshall didn’t help their case.

Marshall said she would miss her job. “I really thank God for the opportunity to work here because I’ve enjoyed it so much,” she said. “It has been interesting and challenging and I learn something every day.”

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