By NORMA LOVE
CONCORD, N.H. (AP)
The chief justice of the
New Hampshire Supreme Court the state's first impeached official in two
centuries is looking forward to the chance to defend himself at a Senate
trial, his lawyer says.
The House overwhelmingly impeached
Chief Justice David Brock on Wednesday. Lawmakers accused him of ethics
violations ranging from perjury to letting disqualified justices take part in
case discussions. ....
The last New Hampshire official impeached was Supreme
Court Justice Woodbury Langdon in 1790, for bad attendance. He resigned
before his Senate trial.
Brock, who has been chief justice since 1986, is accused of
calling a lower-court judge about a politically
connected lawsuit; talking to
another justice about the handling of that justice's divorce; lying under oath
during the investigation; and allowing justices who had been disqualified from
hearing certain cases because of conflicts of interest to comment on impending
.... The investigation has already forced the
resignation of one justice and placed two others under a cloud.
GOP Rep. Albert Hamel said the House could restore the high court's moral
authority only by voting for impeachment: ``I hope that we have equal fortitude,
guts, courage, to do what we have to do in this situation.''
.... In testimony before the House Judiciary Committee last month, Brock
apologized for poor judgment but said he meant no harm ....
The articles also charge that
Brock in February asked for
then-Supreme Court Justice Stephen Thayer's
opinion about the appointment of an appeals panel in Thayer's divorce case and
later discussed the panel with Thayer privately. Thayer resigned earlier this
year to avoid possible criminal prosecution.
Thayer's intervention prompted a group of ex-wives of other New Hampshire judges
to threaten a lawsuit in April. The women argued they were unable to get
competent lawyers or decent divorce settlements because of their husbands'
Brock's lawyers and other supporters said the
Committee lowered the threshold for impeachment too
.... On Monday, Brock said that he would consider resigning
if he could do so with dignity, and only if the House did not adopt the article
of impeachment accusing him of lying. If he resigns now, before he turns 65, he
will get no pension, unless the Legislature changes the law. The House voted
Wednesday against doing that.
Earlier in the investigation,
Justices Sherman Horton and John Broderick were accused of ethics violations for
not immediately blowing the whistle on Thayer. But the Judiciary Committee
deciding against impeaching or reprimanding the two justices, saying months of
publicity had damaged their reputations enough. ....
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