Bar News - May 15, 2009
Morning Mail - Reporting on Keene Meeting ‘Inaccurate’
Let me preface this by stating that I have virtually nothing at stake in the controversy over Cheshire County courts as my litigation practice is almost entirely in federal court.
I attended the session in Keene regarding the plan for relocation. Your report (April 17 issue of Bar News) was quite inaccurate. Yes, members of the Cheshire County Bar expressed their opinions forthrightly, as they had been invited to do by the Chief Justice; yes, their remarks were impassioned advocacy, but the word “fractious” is both unwarranted and insulting.* No, we didn’t need a jumped-up state senator to rise to the defense of the Chief Justice – her remarks alleging disrespect to the Chief Justice were incomprehensible to an audience composed entirely of those who not only respect him deeply but believe him to be entirely in agreement that the proposed steps would disadvantage the users of the court system in Cheshire County. Moreover, the judges at the table were far more capable than she to establish and maintain the boundaries of the discussion (the chief legal official of the state has actual authority over members of the Bar, whereas she has none); you probably noticed the stony silence with which her remarks were received. I would also note that there was not a single person in the audience who voiced support for the proposed court-shifting plan (not the staff, not the lawyers, not the city and county elected officials) – rather a far cry from your characterization that the proposal was “viewed with skepticism by some in the audience.”
One can only conclude objectively that your article had some agenda other than accuracy, or that you were relying upon sources other than your own observation who had reasons for slanting the coverage. I rather expect others to be less polite in their critiques.
* OED defines fractious as “Refractory, unruly; now chiefly, cross, fretful, peevish, esp. of children”
Lawrence D.W. Graves, Keene
I regret the choice of the word “fractious” as the meeting was not unruly, nor were the participants peevish. On the other points, I was present for the two meetings described, and I stand by my reporting.
– Dan Wise, Bar News Editor