Statement Of John S. Arnick

February 18, 1993

Just three weeks ago today, at this very hour, I experienced the finest moment of my professional career. In the presence of 300 friends and relatives, my sister held our family Bible as I took the oath of office as a judge of the District Court of Maryland for Baltimore County. That happy occasion is a distant memory today because of what has taken place in the last nine days.

I have spent this week preparing for yet a third hearing in which the evidence would again demonstrate -- as it clearly did last Friday -- that I am indeed well qualified for judicial service. I have always been a fighter, in my early athletic career, during my service in the Marine Corps, and on the floor of the legislature. I have been called many things, but never a quitter, and I do not wish to be called one now.

For me, however, this process reached its conclusion yesterday afternoon at the home of my mother in Dundalk. My mother is 87 years old. She is the victim of an aneurysm in her brain which has left her both physically and mentally fragile. Yet her condition did not stop a Baltimore television station from invading the privacy of her home and interviewing her on camera yesterday afternoon. As I watched my own mother on the evening news late last night, I knew -- at that moment -- that things had gone too far -- that this process had become so distorted -- that the media frenzy was so intense -- that I could not expect fair and impartial judgment. No matter what I said one year ago, my mother and my family deserve better than this.

I see in the newspapers and on radio and television a John Arnick who has been portrayed as racist, as sexist, and as a vulgar man. That John Arnick is a stranger to me. It is not me. It is a John Arnick that is unknown to the thousands who have worked with me in public and private life for 30 years.

On Friday, over 40 witnesses testified to my strong character, my temperament and my integrity. The testimony was plainly compelling to members of the Senate committee, who voted 14-4 to support my nomination. The facts of my life, as expressed in that hearing, went virtually unreported in the public press. Instead, two detractors were given wide coverage. Members of the Senate were subjected to an unprecedented media campaign to reach a conclusion regardless of what the additional evidence might show.

This has convinced me that no matter what further testimony might now be presented on my behalf, no matter how compelling the evidence might be on Friday, that a fair and impartial inquiry ++ could not be conducted in this environment.

This process has raised deeper questions than my qualifications for the District Court. At its heart, it asks what kind of person is John Arnick?

How do you measure a man and his life? Is one hour in one day a measure of a person's whole life, his character and his deepest beliefs? Is there anyone of us -- judge or layperson -- who has not said words in haste, anger or fatigue that we wished we could now take back? Certainly it is not the full measure of my own 59 years of life and my 30 years of public and professional service.

The Baltimore Sun asked this same question three years ago when historians opened the diaries of one of its own, H. L. Mencken, who had recorded many shocking thoughts and deeds. The Sun rejected those who summarily branded Mencken racist and anti-Semitic based on his diaries, calling those judgments wildly off the mark and asking readers to view these comments in the context of his whole life, and his record on these issues.

I am no H. L. Mencken, in either talent, temperament, or viewpoint, but I am bold enough to ask for the same standard of judgment.

And so today I can only hope that those who worked so hard to oppose my nomination will take the same time and make the same effort to truly ask what kind of a lawyer and public servant I have been for the last 30 years, and more importantly, what kind of human being I truly am.

People from all walks of life who have known me for three decades have already made informed judgment about my ability and integrity. In time, I have confidence in the ultimate judgment of my fellow Marylanders about my character when the current media frenzy has subsided.

And time will ultimately be the test of those judgments. In the meantime, however, I have too much respect for the government of this great state -- and each of its branches -- to carry on a battle which the media decided that I should lose before it even began. There is much important work to be done in Annapolis this session and I do not wish to be a distraction to those who must now do it. Therefore, I will ask Governor Schaefer to withdraw my nomination tomorrow to be a judge of the District Court of Maryland for Baltimore County.

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