Former Nashua judge disbarred
CONCORD – Paul S. Moore, the former Nashua District Court judge convicted of fraud earlier this year, has been formally disbarred by the New Hampshire Supreme Court.
“In light of the seriousness of the misconduct, the court concluded that (Moore) should be disbarred,” the Friday court ruling states.
Moore, 59, of Bedford, who was himself angling for a position on the state Supreme Court before he got caught manipulating the judicial job performance review system in an effort to advance his career, will no longer be able to practice law in New Hampshire in any way.
Moore pleaded guilty in May to one count of felony fraud after he was caught lying on his disability retirement application, which he submitted after he was removed from the bench in the wake of the job performance review investigation.
Moore had been gaming his performance reviews as far back as 2008 in order to advance his career, Assistant Attorney General Jane Young said during the plea hearing, held in the Merrimack County Superior Court in Concord. When he was caught in July 2017 forging positive job performance surveys, Young said, Moore was then trying to bolster his application to serve on the New Hampshire Supreme Court.
Moore was sentenced to 12 months in jail, suspended for two years. He is also required to pay $7,000 in restitution.
The fraud charge stems from Moore’s attempt in January to retire from his job by claiming a mental disability. Moore is a U.S. Army veteran who suffered an injury in the 1990s from a parachuting accident. Moore’s retirement application states that his mental and physical health began to deteriorate rapidly beginning 15 months prior, or in late 2016. However, in March 2017, Moore submitted an application to serve on the New Hampshire Supreme Court. That application stated that while he dealt with physical issues, he was not impaired from being able to perform his job, according to court records.
If Moore had been able to retire at 59 with a disability retirement, Young estimated he would have taken more than $1 million from New Hampshire taxpayers in pay and benefits.
While serving as a per diem judge in 2008, Moore allegedly forged reviews of his performance, including a review that stated he should be on the high court. After the overwhelmingly positive 2008 reviews, Moore received a full-time position on the bench.
Judges are reviewed in New Hampshire every three years through an anonymous survey system. People who have had business before a judge under review are invited to take an online survey to evaluate the judge.
Moore was removed from the bench in October and escorted out of the Nashua courthouse after an investigation into his 2017 job performance reviews. During the investigation by the New Hampshire Judicial Conduct Committee, Moore admitted to forging positive performance evaluations, and to trying to manipulate the system in other ways. He blamed these actions on his physical and mental deterioration.
“I fostered personal and professional fears that my growing physical and mental symptoms would be detected by others through possible negative judicial evaluations of me,” Moore wrote in a letter responding to questions from the committee investigative team.
Moore was notified on July 10, 2017 that he would be given a performance review, and by the morning of July 11, 16 evaluations had been sent into the committee via the online survey program. These reviews contained perfect scores for Moore in every category, according to the statement of charges.
These evaluations were coming in, even though the public notice inviting reviews of Moore had yet to be made public. By July 12, after an e-bulletin went out from the New Hampshire Bar Association News, Moore had dozens of reviews, 80 percent of which were positive.
The unusually high volume, and the disproportionate number of perfect scores, raised suspicions. A September confidential memo to the then Supreme Court Chief Justice Linda Dalianis states that the committee decided to check internet protocol, or IP, addresses to determine the origin of the reviews.
One IP address was responsible for 12 perfect scores, all coming in during times Moore was not serving in court. The IP address was traced to Newport, near where Moore has a vacation home, according to the memo. The memo also alleges Moore was trying to “stuff the ballot” by getting police and probation officers, and landlords who had business in his court to give him favorable reviews.
Moore is still due to appear at a JCC hearing later this month to face charges related to the job performance review forgeries.
The New Hampshire Judicial Performance Evaluation Advisory Committee announced it will work with researchers at the University of New Hampshire to create a more secure system for the surveys to keep them from being gamed in a similar fashion going forward.
Damien Fisher can be reached at 594-1245 or firstname.lastname@example.org or @Telegraph_DF.