On Thursday, November 10, 2022, the Supreme Court of the State of  New Hampshire decided in favor of the Judicial Conduct Committee’s recommendation of reprimanding Hon. Bruce F. Dalpra, a judge at the State of Hampshire, 9th Circuit Court, Family Division for alleged misconduct. 

The case is styled as ‘In the matter of Bruce F. Dalpra’ with case number #JD-2022-0001.

The judge was charged with violating Canon 1, Rule 1.2, Canon 2, Rule 2.11, Canon 2, Rule 2.16(A), Canon 2, Rule 2.8(B), which states:

A judge shall act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the independence, integrity, and impartiality of the judiciary, and shall avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety.

A judge shall disqualify himself or herself in any proceeding in which the judge’s impartiality might reasonably be questioned.

A judge shall cooperate and be candid and honest with judicial and lawyer disciplinary agencies.

A judge shall be patient, dignified, and courteous to litigants, jurors, witnesses, and lawyers.

The following are as alleged and summarized from the filing.

This case started with the complaint of the respondent’s misconduct. While handling a certain case (Albrecht’s case), the judge allegedly had a problem with his demeanor. The respondent gave remarks that according to the court are inappropriate and create “Not only theoretical impact on the public’s perception of the judicial process, it had direct consequences for the parties of Albrecht’s case, he was handling.”

The filing  states:

‘The amended transcript also reflected, for the first time, the remark DalPra described in his self-report as “completely inappropriate.” Ms. Albrecht’s lawyer was questioning her about the children that Mr. and Ms. Albrecht have together. The lawyer asked, “Do you believe that they are mature minors?” Ms. Albrecht answered, “Yes.” The lawyer asked, “How do they do in school? Answer: “They have good grades.” Question: “Have they had any problems with their conduct in school or outside of school?” Answer: “Never.” Question: “Do they make wise, mature decisions in their daily lives relative to, for example, schoolwork?” Answer: “Yes.”DalPra whispered, “Of course not, they’re a bunch of morons.” 

The filing continues: 

‘Ms. Yee attempted to listen to the hearing but could not hear the comments on her own. She requested clarification from Ms. Lilley about the precise nature of the offending remarks. Ms. Lilley promptly responded that same day:

Here are a couple of examples from the transcriber:

Here are a few examples of timestamps where you can clearly hear the Court:

“Who gives a fuck?”-**12:28:16

Of course not, they’re a bunch of morons.”.**1:45:59

The first one is really hard to hear so don’t know if Ms. Albrecht will even hear it

in her audio. The second example is pretty clear.’

The filing further alleges:

‘At its February 11, 2022, meeting, the Committee directed its Executive Secretary to conduct additional investigation to learn about the meaning of the transcriptionist’s email remarks, noting that DalPra “talks to his clerk and himself a lot and makes some pretty bad remarks about the parties and the commentary the parties make. It actually creates it to where I can’t hear what the witness is saying because he’s talking into the mic, I think, completely unaware of what he’s doing.” Members of the Judicial Conduct Committee listened to the entire November 6, 2020 hearing and did not notice the same level of comments. Ms. Lilley reported that these observations were actually made by a transcriptionist named Erin Perkins who no longer works for e-Scribers. The Executive Secretary learned that e-Scribers transcriptionists use noise-canceling headphones with a “booster” app or device to enhance the sound quality of the recording. Ms. Lilley contacted Erin Perkins who reported through Ms. Lilley that she believed there were other comments made by DalPra during the hearing. At this time Ms. Perkins did not have a specific recollection of the content of those other remarks.’

Due to these facts and circumstances, the JDCC initially ruled for a reprimand of the respondent. After being forwarded these recommendations to the court, the latter ruled in favor of the JCC.

The Disposition states:

The court determines that the JCC’s findings as to the violations of the Code of Judicial Conduct is supported by the JCC’s record. See Rule 40(13). In light of DalPra’s retirement from his position as a marital master, the court concludes that no additional disciplinary action is required. Pursuant to Rule 40(13-A) and the terms of the Stipulation and Agreement, as amended, DalPra is ordered to reimburse the AOC in the amount of $12,680.52 for the attorney’s fees, transcript fees, and other expenses that the JCC incurred to investigate and prosecute the matter. Payment shall be made on or before December 19, 2022.”

The Judge is in the State of Hampshire, 9th Circuit Court, Family Division, Nashua. It is located at 30 Spring street, suite 102, Nashua, New Hampshire, and can be reached at (855) 212-1234 (US or Canada). His bio can be found on lawyers.findslaw.com

A copy of the original filing can be found here.