Pottstown-area native and Hill School graduate Nicholas Reifsnyder, who worked in the Montgomery County District Attorney's Office for more than seven years, first as a summer intern while in law school and later as an assistant prosecutor, is moving on to a new challenge. Reifsnyder is joining the law practice of James P. Lyons in Maple Glen where he will concentrate on criminal defense work.
"He's a local defense attorney and he's one of the best we have so it's an honor and a privilege to be working with him," Reifsnyder said recently as he prepared to leave the DA's office.
Reifsnyder rose through the ranks as a prosecutor, working his way from the pre-trial division to the economic crimes unit, to the drug unit and then was promoted to the major crimes unit where he was captain of the elder abuse division. Reifsnyder summed up his time as a prosecutor as "fantastic."
"It's a great place to work. You're working with very bright and very talented people, people who really believe in what they do. The bosses are great people to work for," said Reifsnyder, referring to District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman, First Assistant District Attorney Kevin R. Steele and Deputy District Attorney Thomas McGoldrick. "All-in-all it was a magnificent experience and I wouldn't trade these last seven years for the world."
Reifsnyder was born in N.J. but his parents moved to the Pottstown area when he was in the second grade and he attended local public schools and also attended St. Aloysius Catholic school. He is a 2000 graduate of The Hill School. He completed his undergraduate studies at Harvard University and graduated from Temple University Law School.
|Nicholas Reifsnyder on his last day as a Montco prosecutor. Mercury Photo by Carl Hessler Jr.|
"He was someone who was diligent. He was intelligent, he spotted issues. He was someone that the younger people counted on to go to for advice and he will be missed," said Assistant District Attorney Jason Whalley, who worked with Reifsnyder on the drug unit and considers him a friend. "He understood the issues, he prepared and was a good teammate when we were both on the same unit."
Fellow prosecutor Jordan Friter, who leads the district attorney's sex crimes unit, recalled he and Reifsnyder began their jobs as prosecutors on the same day.
"Nick is one of the smartest people I have ever had the opportunity to work with. We always bust his chops about going to Harvard," Friter joked. "He keeps the mood of the office light all the time and we're going to miss him a lot."
Friter said it will be "strange" to appear against Reifsnyder in a courtroom battle.
"It is strange. When you come into the office you never think about that actually happening but now it's a reality and he's got a job to do and I look forward to going against him," Friter added.
At the notion of going up against his former colleagues, Reifsnyder said, "Everyone's got a job to do. They have a job to do. I'm going to have a job to do and one of the good things about the people in the office is they don't tend to take things personally. They understand that the defense bar has a job to do just like they do. It might be a little bit weird at first but I think that that will disappear pretty quickly."
Prosecutor Kathleen Colgan recalled she was a certified legal intern in the office when Reifsnyder accompanied her during her very first court appearance.
"Nick is a brilliant attorney and I've learned an immeasurable amount by working with him," Colgan said. "Nick has a brilliant legal mind and he had the ability to explain complicated nuances of the law to an intern in a way that I was able to understand it as a very young attorney. He's continued to be a mentor to me."
Others had this to say as Reifsnyder said his farewells to the office.
"Nick Reifsnyder was a huge asset to our office and we're definitely going to miss him," said Assistant District Attorney Kristen Feden. "He was an excellent prosecutor, very passionate about his cases."
"Nick was a great guy to work with and he was always willing to help out with a case," added prosecutor Laura Adshead.
"Nick was a tremendous prosecutor who demonstrated an extraordinary knowledge of the law and was a powerful presence in the courtroom," said fellow prosecutor Jeremy Abidiwan-Lupo.
Several years ago, Reifsnyder helped prosecute a Pottstown merchant who sold synthetic marijuana from his downtown convenience store, a crime that ended in a state prison term for the store owner. The prosecution of the store owner and a business associate were an outgrowth of the investigation of a May 2012 double-fatal wreck on State Street in Pottstown during which the driver of the vehicle was driving under the influence of synthetic pot, known as K2, which had been purchased at the store.
That prosecution marked the first time that a store operator was charged in the county with selling K2 under a state law that went into effect in August 2011 and criminalized such activity.
"It was a privilege," Reifsnyder said, to participate in that important prosecution.
Ironically, one of Reifsnyder's legal foes during that case was Lyons.
"It's a new challenge," Reifsnyder said about his decision to turn to criminal defense work. "I'm looking forward to being able to make sure that people are getting fair trials. You've got to put the commonwealth's evidence to the test. I hope to give the people that I represent the best representation that I possibly can."
From a personal standpoint, Reifsnyder was always available for press questions and never tried to dodge the press while his cases played out in court. And he always treated reporters with respect, understanding we have a job to do too.
I look forward to reporting about Reifsnyder's defense career.
Congratulations, Nick. Best of luck.