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Legal Ethics

Ex-Judge, Now a N.H. Lawyer, is Censured for ‘Double-Dipping’

Posted Oct 7, 2008 2:51 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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A former New Hampshire judge who resigned from the bench after she was suspended for three years without pay earlier this year is in ethical hot water again.

Patricia Coffey has accepted a censure from the New Hampshire Supreme Court’s Judicial Conduct Committee, which found that she had exceeded a pay limit on the money she could earn from working at an outside job while she was on paid leave from the bench, reports the Portsmouth Herald News.

Coffey, who was on leave from her judicial job beginning on Aug. 29, 2007, reportedly worked for a New York City document retrieval services firm in the meantime, earning more than the limit of 15 percent of her judicial pay.

She had petitioned the supreme court for a waiver of the pay limit in March. It was denied at about the same time that Coffey received the news of the three-year unpaid suspension and resigned from the bench, the newspaper recounts.

"According to the JCC, a judge may take other employment if it contributes to 'the improvement of the law, the legal system and the administration of justice," the article states. "But according to the JCC, Coffey’s double-dipping accomplished none of that."

As discussed in a previous ABAJournal.com post, Coffey received the three-year unpaid suspension from the bench because she helped her husband, now a disbarred attorney, shield assets from creditors.

Additional and related coverage:

Concord Monitor: "Ex-judge faces misconduct charge"

ABAJournal.com: "Disgraced Former N.H. Judge: ‘I Cried. Who Wouldn’t?’"

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