The state Attorney General filed charges on Monday setting off a full criminal investigation to determine whether Judge Paul Moore committed, “Unsworn Falsification, “Tampering with Public Records or Information,” and/or “Obstructing Government Administration.”
The judge broke all of those laws by writing his own performance reviews and submitting them online anonymously. He was afraid honest reviewers might not give him good marks.
The Attorney General may find other charges as well if investigators find “other criminal conduct” as they sort through the evidence.
The charging document alleges, “that Judge Moore submitted a number of anonymous judicial evaluations of himself online, making it appear as though some other person had submitted the evaluations and without identifying himself as the individual submitting the evaluations.” So, basically, he is a liar.
The last time the Ninth Circuit Nashua Court judge was seen in the courtroom was mid-October in 2017. The judge was bewilderingly “escorted from the courthouse” one day, without warning or explanation.
Court officials put on their poker faces, refusing “to comment on why he wasn’t in court or what happened.”
“Judge Moore is a circuit court judge and state employee who is on the state payroll,” court spokesperson Carole Alfano insisted.
When asked if Moore was being investigated, had been removed from the bench, or placed on administrative leave, Alfano refused to take the bait.
“It just puts me in an interesting position here,” she dodged. Now we know, since October, he was on paid administrative leave but now is officially “on leave without pay.”
Last July, the Superior court found out Judge Moore repeatedly pretended to be another person and started quietly looking into it.
Each year, 18 to 20 of the state’s judges get picked for review. Moore was chosen in 2017. They sent him a link to an online survey so he could complete his “self-evaluation.”
They also gave him a peek at the “list of 90 randomly selected individuals and agencies” they had already chosen to write his report card. He didn’t like what he saw.
He emailed back, three days later, asking to scratch “two former employees” off the list. He had 148 suggestions of his own, representing “landlords, police, and parole officers who appeared before him” who he wanted to be included as reviewers.
The thing that tipped court employees off, that Judge Moore was trying to illegally tip the scales in his favor, was when they started getting review evaluations from the public before they announced he was up for review.
Unsurprisingly, all of them were glowing recommendations that gave him the best possible grades.
Not just one or two, they got “dozens.” “In less than 24 hours, he received 16 evaluations with perfect scores in every category.”
Moore admitted in his formal response to the complaint that he posted the bogus reviews. He also admitted to trying to cover his tracks.
He confessed to “making the submissions on many occasions over several weeks using his personal computers, iPads, mobile phones and once or twice from his job at the Nashua District Court.”
As justification for his behavior, Moore writes, he “allowed himself to develop inflated concerns and anxiety about the fairness of the process.”
According to the complaint filed by prosecutors, “there is probable cause to believe that Moore failed to comply with the Code of Judicial Conduct, failed to act in a manner that promotes public confidence of the judiciary, failed to avoid both impropriety and the appearance of impropriety and allowed his behavior to be influenced by fear of criticism.”
A meeting will be held by a judicial committee to discuss the issue on March 26.
Two years ago, Moore was also in the spotlight. The New Hampshire Judicial Conduct Committee reviewed a potential conflict of interest with a non-profit he founded.
Moore “voluntarily stepped down as president and treasurer of MooreMart, a volunteer organization that ships care packages to troops overseas.”
While serving as an Army Ranger, Moore suffered a “serious spinal injury” in a parachuting accident.
He made a nearly complete recovery from full paralysis in both legs. He needs to use a crutch but is able to walk.
No complaints came out of that but he stepped down anyway just to be on the safe side. He created the group in 2004. At the time he stepped down from his charity group, he made a prophetic remark.
“During my tenure as a circuit court justice, I have been careful to comply with the judicial ethical rules, but concerns have recently been brought to my attention that I must address.”