Statement By Judith A. Wolfer

February 10, 1993

This is the text of Judith A. Wolfer's testimony before the Senate Executive Nominations Committee Monday evening.

Good afternoon, Chairman Wagner, and members of the Senate Executive Nominations Committee. My name is Judith Wolfer and I am a partner in the law firm of Vecchia & Wolfer, located in Takoma Park, Maryland. I am here today to testify in opposition to the confirmation of Del. John Arnick to the Baltimore County District Court. As a result of certain interactions and conversations with Mr. Arnick during last year's legislative session, I am of the conviction that Mr. Arnick lacks proper judicial temperament to serve in a judicial capacity. Furthermore, I believe that his appointment could result in harmful decisions for a significant number of Maryland residents.

For those of you who do not know me, I have been a practicing attorney in Maryland for the past seven years. After graduating from law school in Washington, D.C., I clerked for the Honorable Henry F. Greene in the Superior Court for the District of Columbia. After my clerkship, I took a position as the litigating attorney for the House of Ruth Domestic Violence Legal Clinic in Baltimore, Maryland, where I litigated civil cases on behalf of indigent battered women. One year later, I became the director of the legal clinic and supervised a staff of 10 legal personnel. Over the past three years, I have been active in legislative reform efforts with my law partner, Janet Vecchia, where we practice primarily in the areas of personal injury, employment and family law.

Today, however, I appear before you and speak only as a private person, not on behalf of any organization or entity. I have come forward to give testimony to you after long and arduous discussions with my family and friends, and, most importantly, after a close examination of my conscience. Many of those close to me advised me not to come forward today out of concern about the effects this testimony might have on my professional reputation. I have worried about the potential retribution that might rebound to me, my law firm, or my former employer as a result of testifying before you today. I have fully considered those risks, as well as the full range of implications of my testimony for Mr. Arnick. However, I believe that it is my moral and ethical duty to make this committee aware of facts pertinent to Mr. Arnick's proposed confirmation to the District Court.

Before I begin, I should state that I do not know Mr. Arnick personally in any way. My only contacts with Mr. Arnick have been in a professional capacity and my comments today are based upon the behaviors and content of these encounters.

As some of you know, I worked extensively during the 1992 legislative session on the Domestic Violence Act, a bill that extended eligibility and civil remedies for victims of domestic violence. As the director of the House of Ruth Domestic Violence Legal Clinic, and on behalf of the Public Justice Center Domestic Violence Task Force and the Maryland Network Against Domestic Violence, I was commissioned to assist in the drafting and passage of this important piece of legislation. As you will recall, Governor Schaefer laudably included the Domestic Violence Act in his 1992 legislative package, so I also worked closely with certain members of the governor's staff assigned to that bill. During the session, we met with numerous legislators to discuss the bill's provisions and to enlist their support in passage of the bill.

Dinner meeting scheduled

We thought it important to meet with Mr. Arnick as the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee to discuss the bill. We were aware of his historical resistance to victims' bills and wanted to ask him for a fair hearing on the bill in his committee. Consequently, a member of the governor's staff and I sought to meet with Chairman Arnick in his office on several different occasions. After Mr. Arnick missed two scheduled appointments with us, we went to his office to see if a lunch meeting might be more convenient for him. While we were speaking to his secretary, Mr. Arnick came into the office and suggested dinner rather than lunch so that he would not feel rushed to get back to the committee. We agreed to meet him the following week at the tavern in the Maryland Inn and to go somewhere to eat from there.

On the scheduled day, we arrived at the tavern and saw Mr. Arnick sitting at a table with a man and a woman who were introduced to us as lobbyists for some utility concern. Mr. Arnick had already ordered some drinks, so we sat down and waited for him to finish. During the course of his conversation, Mr. Arnick said a variety of things that caused me and my colleague considerable discomfort. He told racist jokes with Poles, Jews and African-Americans as the object of the jokes. He referred directly to the woman at the table as "a broad," while putting his arm around her shoulders and patting her knee.

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