N.H. Chief Justice Apologizes / Denies
Source: AP Breaking News
Published: 6/26/00 Author: Gene Johnson
N.H. Chief Justice Apologizes, Asks to Stay on Court
By Gene Johnson
Associated Press Writer
CONCORD, N.H. (AP) - In a final bid to avoid impeachment, New Hampshire Supreme Court Chief Justice David Brock apologized Monday for his poor judgment but pleaded with a legislative committee to spare his job.
"To the extent my actions as chief justice of the New Hampshire Supreme Court contributed to the need for this unique historical process ... I am sorry," Brock said.
The state House Judiciary Committee is investigating whether Brock, Justice John Broderick and Justice Sherman Horton should be impeached over alleged widespread ethics violations.
Witnesses have depicted a pattern of Brock putting the court's right to confidentiality over the need to report misconduct. The state's Code of Judicial Conduct requires judges to report wrongdoing by other judges and lawyers.
The committee begins deliberating Wednesday morning.
Brock is accused of intervening with a lower court judge in a case involving a state senator - a charge he denies. He is also implicated in former Justice Stephen Thayer's attempt to influence his own divorce case and accused of failing to promptly report other alleged misconduct by Thayer.
Brock said he had seriously considered resigning, but wanted to stay to clear the cloud raised by the allegations.
"As chief justice, I am responsible for what occurs on my watch," Brock said, adding, "I never intended to do anything wrong."
Brock's brief statement followed an hour-long one by his lawyer, Ralph Lancaster. Lancaster said that while Brock had made mistakes, they were not impeachable because he did not make them with "a black heart or evil intent."
"You don't indict mistakes. You don't indict errors in judgment," Lancaster said.
The committee is expected to vote July 5 on whether the justices should be impeached, reprimanded or cleared. The House will vote on the committee's recommendation on July 12. [See comments below *]* One would think that the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court would have more sense than to make the defense arguments made by him. "Lancaster said that while Brock had made mistakes, they were not impeachable because he did not make them with 'a black heart or evil intent.' "First, the criminal standard of "intent" is not necessary for impeachment proceedings inasmuch as impeachment lies only to removal from office, not fines or imprisonment. It is a unique process in which one is not entitled to a jury as in a criminal or civil proceeding.Second, the evidence presented does indeed establish intent, though irrelevant, "Witnesses have depicted a pattern of Brock putting the court's right to confidentiality over the need to report misconduct." Does a pattern of misconduct imply an unintentional mistake?Third, by asking for forgiveness is to admit to the charges, "New Hampshire Supreme Court Chief Justice David Brock apologized Monday for his poor judgment but pleaded with a legislative committee to spare his job." He essentially plead guilty to the charges. The average citizen is told, "Ignorance of the law is no excuse." Should we not expect at least the same standard for the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court?J.A.I.L. (Judicial Accountability Initiative Law)
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