Statement To The Committee By John Arnick

February 13, 1993

Statement of John S. Arnick

Senate Executive Nominations Committee

Feb. 12, 1993

Mr. Chairman, Members of the Committee:

First, let me thank you for allowing me an opportunity to appear today and present testimony to you to demonstrate that I deserve your support and confidence, that I have the experience, the temperament, the knowledge and integrity to serve as a judge of the District Court of Maryland for Baltimore County.

I have served alongside each of you -- known some of you for the better part of our lifetimes -- we have fought many battles -- sometimes side by side and sometimes as opponents, but always with the best interests of the people of Maryland in our hearts. I have been greatly honored that so many of my colleagues, fellow attorneys, friends and supporters have appeared during your first hearing and here today to recommend and endorse my nomination.

I have spent all of my working life practicing law and serving the people of Baltimore County in the House of Delegates. As with many of you, I gave up other important things in life during those years -- and I worked hard at the expense of my personal life.

And up until two weeks ago, I wouldn't have traded one minute of that public service for anything else. But events have changed my perspective somewhat. On Jan. 27, I was sworn in as a judge of the District Court of Maryland for Baltimore County. Since that date, I have sat daily as a member of that court in Towson. I can hardly describe the pride I have felt each day I have put on that robe and presided over hundreds of criminal and civil cases involving the citizens of my county. I now feel I wouldn't trade a minute of that judicial service, either.

I could review with you in detail my 30-year career as a lawyer and as a magistrate for three years on the People's Court, the predecessor to the District Court on which I now sit. Many of you may not have been aware of my prior judicial experience. I could review with you my legislative career -- the issues I have championed, the bills I have sponsored, the committees I have chaired -- but you senators know John Arnick the legislator firsthand.

I often felt my parents, grandparents and great-grandparents from Italy, Yugoslavia, Poland and Germany would have been very proud of my legislative career. To read now about my alleged ethnic insensitivity really hurts, and it is not true.

When you look back and try to take stock of who you are -- where you are from, where you have been, the kind of person you are -- then you look at your whole life. And this kind of experience obviously forces you to do just that.

Last night, I went through some old files and records. I recalled my sponsorship of divorce and custody reforms, the creation of the Commission on the Status of Women, the Maryland Equal Rights Amendment, legislation strengthening the Human Relations Commission, the domestic violence and battered spouse bills, and the battles I have led in favor of abortion rights since 1967.

In the last quarter of a century, all of the major fights in this state to protect these rights have been my fights. I have been involved in supporting all of these bills, and nothing makes me prouder.

I have seen many changes in Annapolis since 1966. Like most, I have made some mistakes along the way. I am very proud to have represented the people of the 7th District of Baltimore County. The 7th District is a working-class district with the largest African-American community in Baltimore County, and I am proud that I have always received the highest vote totals in the African-American community. The people of the 7th District gave me their confidence and elected me in 1966, 1970, 1974, and again in 1982, 1986, and 1990. But after 30 years in the public spotlight, making many friends and some enemies on issues that were both difficult and controversial, I never dreamed my long-hoped-for judicial appointment would be held in a crowded room under the glare of television cameras.

So I am here today to really discuss an episode that happened nearly one year ago. I have read the statement. I wish with all my heart I would have known of the apparent problem the day after, the week after, months after, or even before I submitted my name to the Judicial Nominating Commission. I would have welcomed the opportunity to discuss at length or to have had a chance to air this during the Judicial Nominating Process last summer and fall -- or even if it had been brought to light during the governor's appointment process.

However, the first time I learned of these allegations was -- like most of you -- late Monday afternoon.

I remember the dinner, but I cannot remember verbatim what was discussed. I did not meet the two lobbyists for lunch simply because I seldom go to lunch. The practice of the Judiciary Committee was to meet immediately after session so there was rarely time for outside lunch, especially with lobbyists.

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