Legal Ethics

Judge Who Hid Disbarred Spouse's Assets Steps Down

Embattled New Hampshire Superior Court Justice Patricia Coffey, who last week was suspended for three years, is stepping down from the bench.

The Nashua Telegraph reports that Coffey abruptly resigned Monday after expressing disappointment with the state supreme court sanction.

The paper notes that Coffey’s resignation ends a lengthy ethics probe and likely heads off a vote by the state legislature to remove her.

Coffey reportedly said in her letter of resignation that she took issue with the high court’s opinion sanctioning her, asserting that the court was selective in its characterization of her actions in creating land trusts to protect her disbarred husband’s finances.

“I was disappointed in the decision issued by the Supreme Court because of the manner in which it emphasized certain evidence and ignored other evidence,” Coffey wrote.

She also offered an apology.

“I have taken responsibility for what I did and I did try to deal honorably and in a forthright manner with counsel for the Professional Conduct Committee and the Judicial Conduct Committee,” Coffey wrote. “My regret is that my actions, when I was under extreme emotional duress, may have reflected poorly on the judicial system as a whole and on those people who strive daily to make the system work, and to them, I apologize.”

Gov. John Lynch, who had called for the judge’s resignation, praised her decision to step down as “the right thing to do.”

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