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 A Judge Lynching: Letter to the Editor (6-1-08)

A Judge LynchingTo the Editor,

After several news outlets inaccurately reported that I had been suspended as an Assistant Judge, I asked for a correction and a few news outlets granted my request. The Vermont Standard, a Woodstock weekly, did not print a correction of its erroneous story, but did run this letter in a somewhat different form.

For the record, I have NOT been suspended. The judicial conduct board’s “order of recommendation” will have no force until and unless the Supreme Court ratifies it, and I have yet to see a news report that got this right the first time around.

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In the case of the Vermont Standard, it’s not only unfortunate that the Standard refuses to correct its errors. It is even more unfortunate that the Standard’s editor has failed to make clear his own close relation to this matter – as a participant, as a political activist, and as an editor with a hidden agenda -- all before the inaccurate complaint went to the judicial conduct board, where he was a witness against me.
  • 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, then or now.
  • 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 the 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 In November 2006, the editor mistakenly published a not-for publication, out of date news tip that he had to re-write to make it appear to be a letter to the editor.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 of Lebanon, NH, 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 recent press release, there would have been no conduct charge against me. Had the editor done in 2006, as he did recently – seek and receive my permission to convert a document into a letter to the editor – if he had acted at that level of responsibility, the second count in the conduct complaint against me simply would not exist, for its necessary pre-condition would not exist. I would not have agreed to the editor's printing a document never meant for publication, especially when I was seeking publication of a letter to the editor instead.

William Boardman, Assistant Judge

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