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After controversy, retired NH superior court judge fights for kudos

A retired Superior Court judge who has been reprimanded for making potentially sexist remarks will appear before leaders of the New Hampshire Bar Association today to ask that his judicial career be formally recognized next month, the Bar confirmed.

John M. Lewis said he will give a brief statement to the 23-member Board of Governors. Lewis said he’s grateful the board agreed to reconsider an earlier decision about the recognition, which is scheduled to take place in June at the Bar Association’s annual meeting.

“I’m hoping they’ll see it’s worthwhile to recognize people like me,” Lewis said. “I did spend, I think, 12 years of very dedicated service to the state.”

Lewis, of Durham, was the supervisory judge of Strafford County Superior Court.

In March, Lewis signed a reprimand and admitted making remarks that could be interpreted as gender-biased. He reportedly told public defenders who regularly use his court that the legal profession risks losing respect because so many women are lawyers.

He also reportedly said people respect the business world because it is male-dominated, and the teaching profession is harmed because women are becoming lawyers rather than teachers.

Lewis has said the remarks made last July were off-the-cuff musings that were misinterpreted.

“I made comments that were received not as I intended them,” Lewis said Wednesday. Lewis also served as the chairman of the state Board of Education; former Gov. Jeanne Shaheen nominated him to the Superior Court.

Lewis retired last summer as New Hampshire court officials started investigating complaints about his remarks.

Bar Association spokesman Dan Wise said Lewis is expected to appear before the 23-member Board of Governors at 5:30 p.m. Wise would not discuss past decisions of the board, but he expects the board will decide whether to recognize Lewis.

Retired judges and new judges are asked to stand and be acknowledged every year at the Bar Association’s annual meeting, Wise said. Six other retiring judges, including U.S. District Court Judge Steven McAuliffe, are expected to be recognized.

“It’s a recognition item on an agenda of the meeting,” Wise said.

The annual meeting is slated for June 20 at the Portsmouth Sheraton.

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