Statement of Marilyn Petitto Devaney on the nomination of Joseph Berman as Associate Justice of the Superior Court - March 5th, 2015
If I was politically correct - it would be politically expedient for me to support Mr. Berman. He lives in my district. He votes. His family votes. His friends and community votes. But I cannot. As I have always said - It is not always popular to do the right thing. Whatever the cost politically, I will do the right thing. I never take joy in opposing the confirmation of any nominee - but when I do I know in my heart and my head it is right.
This nominee has received a fair and respectful hearing from the council on November 13, 2013. After careful diligence, when the majority of councillors expressed their opposition - the vote was not allowed to be taken.
The Governor gave this nominee three (3) months to prepare for a second hearing that was held on February 26, 2014. The Governor withdrew Mr. Berman’s nomination and resubmitted it. This nominee was afforded another opportunity for a second hearing that very few nominees get. He had another unbiased, fair, and respectful hearing. I am proud of my fellow councillors for their professionalism and the respect afforded Mr. Berman throughout both hearings.
I have stated for my entire tenure - the most important quality that I expect in a judge is honesty - nothing else counts.
I was so hoping that Mr. Berman would apologize for his silly lies - three times in the first hearing. But instead int he 2nd hearing when the subject was brought up again - he actually “lied about the lie.”
When a judge has a person appearing before him; he has to determine if that person is telling the truth. How can I vote to put someone on the bench who, himself was not truthful with the council? I cannot vote for a person who lies. I still cannot understand the motive for the lies.
At the first hearing, Mr. Berman was asked by Councillor Jubinville if he called any elected people to lobby the councillors. Mr. Berman replied NO.
Councillor Jubinville followed up and asked if he called anyone on his $100,000 political donation lists to call the councillors. Mr. Berman replied absolutely not. Then when Councillor Caissie asked him again - He said no - Now that’s three lies. Then he said he called a senator that morning to call Councillor Jubinville and Councillor Albano.
If he would lie about something so silly as a phone call - what could we expect of this nominee as a judge?
Once he lied what else matters? Mr. Berman was unique in his presentation in his first hearing. He is the first nominee in the history of the Governor’s Council who talked about his political organization skills- running candidates’ campaign offices, organizing fundraisers, organizing the workers, “strategizing with people,” (I really don’t know what that means). I also received a call from a person that advised me he was lobbied to make calls by the nominee and refused.
Consider the unseemly donations that obviously give the appearance of undue influence, giving the appearance of attempting to buy his way into a judgeship. Apart from donations to influential politicians - consider donations to the Democratic State Committee- one year $5000 - another year $5000- another year $2500 - in another year $3500. Through the years $50 short of $17,000. Why would anyone who was initially rejected or a judgeship by the JNC continue to give such large amounts of money to the Democratic State Committee? Again, this gives the appearance of undue influence.
Demeanor is essential - you cannot dismiss his temperament in the 1st hearing when he replied to the question: “In your opinion is drug addiction criminal or medical?” He shot back in a sarcastic tone: “I’m not a doctor.”
In conclusion - It is all about the lying - I cannot vote for anyone who lies.
I have received much hate mail, advising me that they are organized - if I don’t change my vote. Whatever the political consequences, I have to do the right thing. I will be voting “No” on the nomination of Joseph Berman.
Marilyn M. Petitto Devaney