Judge Moore resigns amid scandal
Admitted to forging job performance surveys
CONCORD – The Nashua District Court judge being investigated for reportedly forging job performance surveys has submitted his resignation to New Hampshire Supreme Court Chief Justice Robert Lynn.
Paul S. Moore, 59, submitted a one-line resignation letter to Lynn Tuesday, ending his career, though not the investigations into his actions.
Moore was charged last month by the New Hampshire Judicial Conduct Committee with interfering in his own judicial review last summer. Since the charges became public, the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office opened an investigation into possible criminal activities. Moore also is due to answer to the charges at a JCC hearing in Concord next month.
Moore was removed from the bench in October and escorted out of the Nashua Court House without any public explanation. He was placed on paid administrative leave at the time. That changed to unpaid leave with the announcement of formal charges from the JCC. During the investigation, 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 JCC investigative team.
Moore has an undisclosed chronic physical condition causing him pain, as well as post traumatic stress disorder, according to his statement. He wrote that he became preoccupied with the evaluation process when he learned he was going to be evaluated by the JCC in July. Along with fears about his condition becoming known, he also feared the process would not be fair to him.
“I allowed my anxiety about the process to interfere with my role as a judicial officer,” Moore wrote.
Judges are chosen at random every year to be reviewed by the Judicial Conduct Committee by people who have had business before the court. Moore was notified on July 10 that he would be reviewed, and by the morning of July 11, 16 evaluations had been sent into the committee via the online survey program. The reviews all contained perfect scores for Moore in every category, according to the statement of charges.
“Several of the evaluations which were submitted on Tuesday, July 11, 2017, contained narrative comments containing phrases that Judge Moore was known to use frequently in his dictated orders, and a number of these evaluations contained punctuation marks such as exclamation points that are not normally seen in such judicial evaluations,” the statement of charges alleges.
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, according to documents released Monday. A September confidential memo to then-Supreme Court Chief Justice Linda Dalianis states that the committee decided to check internet protocol, or IP, addresses to find out where all the reviews were coming from.
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, as well as landlords who had business in his court, to give him favorable reviews.
In the wake of the scandal, 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 manipulated in a similar fashion.
Damien Fisher can be reached at 594-1245 or firstname.lastname@example.org or @Telegraph_DF.