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Judge Who Resigned Under Questionable Circumstances Wants Her Pension
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Summary: A former judge, who was allowed to resign despite helping her disbarred husband hide money from the state, claims she should be getting a pension.

A Rockingham County Superior Court judge resigned amidst a scandal where she helped her disbarred husband hide money from the state eleven years ago. Now Patricia Coffey is suing to receive her annual pension plus back-pension pay and health insurance.

  
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Coffey was suspended by the Supreme Court for three years without pay before resigning in 2008. She was found to have helped her husband John Coffey hide money by creating a trust fund. He was in the process of being disbarred for exploiting an elderly Rye woman financially.

This was not the only Coffey was in trouble for. She was accused of falling asleep during Superior Court cases in 2006. The investigation required her to obtain a confidential medical examination and be subject to random monitoring in the courtroom, according to Bangor Daily News.

She was also found after her resignation as a Superior Court judge that she was drawing a full salary from a private company whole collecting full judicial pay. Judicial code prohibits drawing a salary from a private company while collecting a full judicial pay, while suspended and under investigation for impropriety.

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New Hampshire’s Supreme Court Judicial Conduct Committee stated that Coffey violated three canons of the judicial code of conduct when she collected full-time pay for document retrieval services for a New York City firm when she was collecting her judicial pay. At the time, she signed the document accepting their findings and agreeing to a public reprimand for her violations.

Coffey’s attorney Russell Hillard filed the four-count federal lawsuit in the U.S. District Court of New Hampshire. She states in the lawsuit that she is 64 years old now and living in California. She claims she was a superior court judge for 16.5 years, the minimum to be eligible is 15 years. During her time as a judge, she made mandatory pension contributions, which would make her entitled to a pension of 71 percent of her final year’s salary. She argues that the Board of Trustees of the New Hampshire Judicial Retirement Plan denied her pension application in 2015. The board contends that Coffey was not employed as a judge at the time of her retirement age.



Coffey’s final salary was $126,203 so her yearly pension, if found eligible, would be $89,604. Coffey wants a jury trial to determine if the board violated the law by denying her pension. If the jury sides with Coffey, she wants back pay and compensation for the past four years lost health benefits, reimbursement for legal costs and attorney fees, and to be enrolled in the judicial health plan.

Do you think a judge should be able to claim pension when they are removed from their position for illegal activity? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.

To learn more about other former judges, read these articles:

Photo: fosters.com



 

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