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A Judge Lynching To the Editor of the Vermont Standard,

Thanks to the Standard for running my letter to the editor on May 22. I wrote it as a press release, which the editor converted into a letter to the editor, with my prior review and approval, although none of this was disclosed.

The Standard's refusal to run a correction of its original story, however, is not so admirable. The Standard's story (May 15) begins: "The Vermont Judicial Conduct Board has suspended [the judge].." This is inaccurate. I have not been suspended. The board's opinion will have no force until and unless the Supreme Court ratifies it. The Standard is not alone in getting this wrong. I have yet to see a media report that got it right.

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The conduct board chair's error about the rules is easily verified by independently consulting rules 8 and 9 of the Rules of Supreme Court for Disciplinary Control of Judges. This is a small point in itself, but it is part of a greater pattern of little and large errors by the board and its chair.

So it's unfortunate the Standard is not correcting the errors in its story.

It is even more unfortunate that the Standard's editor has failed to make clear his own close relation to this matter, even before it went to the judicial conduct board.

  • The editor worked for two of my opponents in the 2006 election, but did not disclose that conflict of interest in his editorials opposing me.
  • The editor was a material witness for the prosecution at my judicial conduct hearing, but has not disclosed that in his editorializing about the matter.
  • The editor - not I - perpetrated an act that the conduct board cites as the basis for the second count in the board's complaint against me. In November 2006, the editor mistakenly published a not-for publication, out of date news tip that he had to re-write to make it appear to be a letter to the editor.
  • I sent the same news tip to all the local newspapers, daily and weekly. No one else ran it in any form, and only the Valley News did a story based on it.
  • The editor testified, under oath at my hearing that he had made that mistake, and that he should instead have run an actual letter to the editor from me, criticizing the kangaroo trials in Guantanamo made possible by the Military Commissions Act of 2006. Testifying before the conduct board on Feb. 1, 2008, the editor said: "I'm sure I printed the wrong one."

The editor of the Standard, having worked for my opponents, having editorialized on their behalf as if he were neutral, and having perpetrated an act that they then reported to the judicial conduct board as if I had done it, all indicate that the editor does not come to this story with clean hands.

What is ironic is that, had he handled my 2006 communication in the same way that he handled my press release last week, there would have been no problem. Had the editor done then, as he has done now - ask my permission to convert a document into a letter to the editor - the second count in the conduct complaint against me simply would not exist, for its necessary condition would not exist. I would not have agreed to printing a document never meant for publication, especially when I was seeking publication of a letter to the editor instead.

William Boardman, Assistant Judge
Woodstock, VT.
May 26, 2008

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