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April 9, 2014

Former Rockingham County judge reprimanded

Lewis: Comments were 'misunderstood'

Former Superior Court Judge John Lewis has been reprimanded by the state’s Judicial Conduct Committee for making inappropriate comments.

Lewis, who served in Rockingham Superior Court for many of his 12 years on the bench, said yesterday he was forced to retire last summer after making comments he said were “misunderstood.”

“There are some comments I made regrettably that were misunderstood and I couldn’t undo,” he said.

He is accused of making sexist and insensitive comments. They include remarks that female attorneys give the public a negative impression of the legal profession, the committee said in its nine-page ruling.

Lewis’ sensitivity to victims of crime was called into question when the committee concluded he said “the aggressive prosecution of child sexual cases may ultimately do more harm than good to the families and the public.”

The committee also said in its decision Lewis didn’t properly handle cases involving physical and sexual assaults of children.

“Victims of crimes routinely leave the Superior Court believing that Judge Lewis does not care about them ...” the committee said.

Lewis and the committee reached an agreement last week that bars him from ever holding judicial office again.

Lewis left Rockingham Superior Court in January 2012 to become the supervisory judge at Strafford County Superior Court in Dover. He stepped down in September.

He was accused of making the comments last summer to attorneys in the Strafford County Attorney’s Office and New Hampshire Public Defenders Office.

The allegations were brought to the attention of the Superior Court Executive Committee. Lewis was placed on paid administrative leave in July while the Executive Committee and Superior Court Justice Tina Nadeau reviewed the case to determine what further action to take.

Lewis submitted his retirement letter within two weeks of being put on leave. The Judicial Conduct Committee began reviewing the allegations in August and reached its decision in late March.

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