Letter: Justice Tempered With Mercy

To the Editor:

This is a thank you to Judge Albert J. Cirone Jr. for his years of service to the citizens and State of New Hampshire (“Lebanon Judge Leaves Bench,” front page, Jan. 30).

I write as someone who appeared in front of Judge Cirone thousands of times over the course of 10 years as a public defender. While I didn’t always agree with his decisions, I always respected the well-reasoned and well-written opinions he issued. While his temper occasionally flared when dealing with my clients and with me, ultimately an even judicial temperment always prevailed. While he could be a fearsome sentencing judge, he was always willing to listen to the fearful mitigating factors that the lives of my clients often presented. While he listened to the testimony of my clients with a skeptical ear, that skepticism always extended to the testimony of the state’s witnesses, including those in law enforcement. Many were the occasions when, after finishing my cross-examination, Judge Cirone asked that incisive question of an officer that I wished I had asked!

And while he was insistent on prompt payment of fines, he was always willing to accommodate for the travails of the working poor. And that’s what I most appreciated. In 10 years, I never saw Judge Albert Cirone treat my clients differently from the affluent clients of so-called “real lawyers.” He was a friend of the working poor and a friend of their civil liberties. I can only hope that his replacement brings to the position the same intellectual rigor and, more importantly, the same sense of the quality of mercy — “it is twice blessed, it blesseth him that gives and him that takes, it is mightiest in the mightiest.” Thank you, Judge Cirone.

Simon J. Mayo