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Friday, October 19, 2012

Who's judging New Hampshire's judges? Only the Legislators ...


The excerpts I included in this article came from a Concrod Mointor article, written by a Dr. Robert O. Wilson, chairman of the New Hampshire Judicial Conduct Committee (NHJCC), he said “it does not surprise me that there is public confusion over the role of the House Committee for Redress of Grievances as it may relate to judicial matters.”  I have included his direct quotes here but rewritten what in fact, is the reality of the situation.
I think the confusion starts with the fact that the people before the redress of grievance committee have already been before the Judicial Conduct Committee, complaints including conflicts of interest, a judge sitting on a criminal case and then behind closed doors a parallel case with DCYF, Judges demeaning women in their court, refusing evidence by males and females, bias against either sex, refusing to answer motions, simply keeping them in the file and pushed aside and the marital masters not following Rules 12-14 all ignored by the Judicial Conduct Committee and it is in large part why the legislators finally ended the marital master program. 
Judges have codes of conduct to be followed and the NHJCC has repeatedly and consistently failed to hold them accountable to the public they serve and those codes of ethics.  Which is why, “The New Hampshire Constitution, while establishing the three branches of government - executive, legislative, and judicial “ may have “heavily weighted the scope of governance to the side of the Legislature.” However it is more likely they saw mans greed, and wanted to “established the Redress Article “for the purpose of accountability for "the wrongs that the people suffer" at the hands of government.”
“Dormant for many years, the Committee for Redress of Grievances was re-established in 2011;” to a large number of complaints by citizens of this state. “Many of its hearings have dealt with citizens unhappy with judicial decisions and the judiciary in general. Sometimes, with the encouragement of legislators, aggrieved former litigants tell their story to the committee, but the committee goes no further to investigate a claim of judicial malfeasance. I have to disagree, this committee requires real evidence of these individuals to present their grievance, many whom I helped direct where to get the evidence to prove their point and highlight the concerns that exist within the Judicial System“In some instances, the committee votes overwhelmingly in favor of the grievant and threatens to bring a bill to the House to impeach the judge.”  Yes, this has happened based on real evidence that the committee took hours and days to pour over, unlike the Judicial conduct committee who meets once a month for a couple of hours to pour over many complaints.
Dr. Wilson, a retired oral surgeon with no legal background, finds “this disturbing, because the public hears only one side of what is often a complex and emotionally charged story.” The committee has repeatedly asked the judicial branch for their side and they refuse. What is disturbing is that this Doctor is chairman of the New Hampshire Judicial Conduct Committee.

"A long history"

"The Judicial Conduct Committee was established more than 35 years ago as an independent, lay-dominated body charged with investigating complaints against judicial officers and, where appropriate, imposing or recommending discipline for misconduct as defined by the Code of Judicial Conduct.
In 2006, the appointing bodies were changed so that the speaker of the House and the Senate president each appoint one lay member; the governor appoints two lay members; the New Hampshire Bar Association appoints two members, one of whom must be a lay person; and the Supreme Court appoints five members: one representing each of the three lower courts, a clerk of court and one lay member. There is also an alternate panel, which hears cases involving a member of the standing committee." hmm I wonder if that happen when complaints were lodged against a Lyn Aaby whose husband sits on the board? A GAL & NH Attorney who in the beginning stages of  a divorce case, gave pick up and drop offs to a girlfriend of the father in the matter, oh who was also her client in her own case, and did not disclose the conflict of interest and intentionally misrepresentative herself to the mother and Judge in the case, the result of the JCC was that there was no conflict, this was also held by the NH GAL Board, who charged a $100.00 to file the complaint. However, we can sincerely thank the executive council who received the exact same information and made sure that Governor Lynch's recommendation that Lyn Aaby become a Judge was DENIED.
"Every state has a similar committee to handle complaints of judicial misconduct using a code of judicial conduct. The New Hampshire code was developed over many years to define how judges, masters, clerks and court reporters will conduct themselves to assure the public that it can feel confident cases will be judged fairly."  If it was done fairly it wouldn't be confidential and hidden.
“The JCC meets at least monthly and, after a thorough investigation of a report of misconduct, will either dismiss the report or carry the matter forward.” Right here it shows that they take less time with the complaints than the legislators who actually heard, reviewed, and analyzed what was brought to them over weeks and long hearings.
"Should the committee find that a judge, master, clerk, etc., violated the code, it will determine an appropriate sanction, even so far as recommending suspension to the Supreme Court. But the JCC cannot overturn a judicial decision. That remedy is accorded only to an appellate court, which in New Hampshire is the state Supreme Court."  The key here is the word "Should" meaning "ought to" but they have not. 
"It is not uncommon for someone reporting what he or she believes to be judicial misconduct - often submitting 20 to 100 pages or more, photographs, and recordings to document their report - only to learn that the committee did not agree and cannot change the ruling or substitute another judge to hear their case."  It is only too common that the JCC never agrees. The one Judge recently removed was due to public fraud not a complaint in her court.
"If litigants report to the JCC that a judge yelled at them, or was biased in some way, was rude or demeaned their testimony or didn't follow the law, the JCC may ask its executive secretary to obtain the sound recording of the trial and/or the transcript for the members to hear and read for themselves."   Again, litigants have been providing audio and transcripts of Judges threatening, berating and/ or being bias. But we'll see what they say shortly ... about a Judge who tells a litigant that if they appeal his order for a GAL, that the party clearly cannot afford that he will recuse himself. Furthermore, Judges that simply push motions to the side and refuse to rule on them and cause more chaos in the courts, they haven't found fault with this to date, lets see if they are put on notice if they will.
"If the committee votes to move to the next stage of inquiry - a complaint - it will ask for a response from the judge, master, clerk, etc. Should the committee be dissatisfied with the response, it can conduct an additional investigation, leading to the filing of a statement of formal charges and a public hearing, should there be clear and convincing evidence of judicial misconduct. Reaching that level is rare - perhaps once or twice a year out of 80 or 90 reports of judicial misconduct."   You have to look at this "clear and convincing evidence" line because it is the lowest standard used in Child Protection Cases to take parents rights away to collect federal money and it goes through all the time. Try to hold a Judge accountable and well as you can see from the JCC findings compared to the same evidence being given to legislators that took more time to listen and review real evidence it's not happening, they are not Judging NH Judges they are covering up for them. 
Don't even get me started on the NH Bar Association... vote yes on Question 2 we need a constitutional amendment. 

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