TESTIMONY OF JOHN ARNICK AT SENATE CONFIRMATION HEARING

THE BALTIMORE SUN

The following is the transcript of the questions asked former Del. John S. Arnick on Friday by members of the Senate Executive Nominations Committee, as recorded for The Sun by Betz & Strouse Inc. Mr. Arnick appeared after 49 other witnesses and began by reading a prepared statement, which was published in The Sun Saturday. The hearing was conducted by state Sen. Michael J. Wagner, D-Anne Arundel, chairman of the committee.

Chairman Wagner: Any questions of Judge Arnick. Senator Denis.

Sen. Howard A. Denis, R-Montgomery: Judge Arnick, I hope you realize that no one here is being gratuitous in taking up this matter and this is an attempt to deal with a serious situation that has been presented to us.

It seems to me that from all of the testimony and all of the statements that have been made that there are two John Arnicks -- John Arnick the serious and capable legislator, and the John Arnick who perhaps has a dark side and is capable of engaging in inappropriate conduct. And it is the dark side that I think I would raise questions about temperament, fairness and attitude in all situations.

Now, as I understand your statement, you are not denying any of the assertions, even though the assumption of your defenders, both here today and in conversations throughout the legislature, seems to assume that the statement is correct, but that it was only one incident a year ago.

You also say you were deeply offended by the statement, but I am struck by the fact that you have not denied it.

So I am forced to ask you, did you mean what you said when you said it? Are you aware of anything that you said that night that would be considered inappropriate in any way?

Mr. Arnick: Senator, let me try and back up again. I had been asked to recall an hour or less meeting with an individual or individuals approximately a year ago and what the facts of that conversation was. I have honestly said I don't know. I am under oath, perjury. I could easily say I deny it. That is the easy way out. I am under oath for perjury. A year ago, do any of us remember what we said to our loved ones, let alone strangers in a hour, hour-and-a-half meeting? I really don't know. Could I describe in my statement the method of using the devil's advocate routine? Could have been. I have heard language like that. In the past, when we were first doing the women's rights in '67, opponents came to me and used language like that. We use it in support payments, alimony, many men come and use that language to me.

Senator Denis: So you are saying it is possible that you did make those statements.

Mr. Arnick: I am saying I don't know, senator.

Senator Denis: But you don't recall making those statements?

Mr. Arnick: I am saying, senator, I do not recall the conversation a year ago of my life, out of my life. I do not remember. I do not remember a conversation a year ago probably with anybody.

Senator Denis: It is possible there may have been many other occasions.

Mr. Arnick: It is also possible none of them.

Senator Denis: I am asking.

Mr. Arnick: No, senator, it is not possible.

Senator Denis: It is not possible.

Mr. Arnick: No, sir.

Senator Denis: Is it not possible that you made other inappropriate statements to Nancy Nowak any time in the process of consideration of this legislation?

Mr. Arnick: Not that I am aware of, no.

Senator Denis: Are you aware of any efforts to discourage Nancy Nowak from testifying before this committee?

Mr. Arnick: No, sir.

Senator Denis: Did you appear at the bill signing for the ceremony for the domestic violence bill?

Mr. Arnick: I don't recall, sir.

Senator Denis: You don't recall if you were present?

Mr. Arnick: The bill signing? I remember there was a very large crowd. I don't think I got into the picture thing.

Senator Denis: Do you remember being there?

Mr. Arnick: Yes, upstairs.

Senator Denis: Did you have any other conversation with Nancy Nowak after the bill signing?

Mr. Arnick: I have had many conversations with her.

Senator Denis: Did you follow her out of the governor's reception room and have a conversation with her?

Mr. Arnick: It is possible. I doubt it.

Senator Denis: Do you recall anything inappropriate that you might have said on that occasion?

Mr. Arnick: No, sir.

Senator Denis: No.

Mr. Arnick: At the time, I considered Nancy Nowak a friend. We talked about many things.

Senator Denis: Actually there never came a time when you came to realize or came to believe that you had said or done anything inappropriate?

Mr. Arnick: Nothing by her actions, by her conversations that led me to indicate that she was in any way perturbed.

Senator Denis: If you or anyone else had done or said that which has been testified to and corroborated, would you see anything wrong in it?

Mr. Arnick: If I felt that way and used that in direct reference to someone, I have never used, I can tell you this, some of those words they say I used in direct reference, I have never ever used in direct reference to anybody in my life. In the context of which I described to you, and I haven't polished my class, you all know that, I am a little rough. I, John Arnick, I, John Arnick, have never, never done what I am doing right now looking at you and said to you that.

Senator Denis: It is very confusing because you are not denying it, but -- I realize you are under oath.

Mr. Arnick: Senator, I will try again. I have done a lot of things in the last year. I don't remember what I said at dinner a year ago to two people I hardly know.

Senator Denis: As part of the statement that was delivered, Judy Wolfer's statement, statement which has been corroborated, there was an allegation there that you made comments concerning the governor, and you read the statement and I am sure you recall what those comments were.

Mr. Arnick: I read the paper.

Senator Denis: Do you recall saying anything like that?

Mr. Arnick: I don't recall ever -- not only this governor, any governor I served with -- saying anything like that.

Senator Denis: Did you ever make the statement that the governor owed you a judgeship?

Mr. Arnick: The governor doesn't owe me anything.

Senator Denis: You never made a statement to that effect?

Mr. Arnick: You are asking me now. The governor doesn't owe me anything, this governor or any governor.

Senator Denis: Did you state that the governor owes you a judgeship?

Mr. Arnick: No, sir. The only discussion I have ever had with this governor about a judgeship was the first time a year ago when I did not make it. The entire discussion was, "Governor, I am

thinking about applying for a judgeship." And the end of the conversation was, "Good luck."

Senator Denis: On the night the incident occurred, do you remember how many drinks you had?

Mr. Arnick: No, sir.

Senator Denis: If you don't remember, you don't remember. If you were asked as a judge to recuse yourself from a protective-order petition based upon what has been alleged and corroborated here, would you do so?

Mr. Arnick: Yes, sir. As a matter of fact my whole week -- or a couple of days, whatever it is -- I have been sitting, one case came to me involving an assault. When the one witness came up to the witness stand, I knew the witness and I recused myself.

Senator Denis: So you would recuse yourself if asked in a domestic violence.

Mr. Arnick: Yes, sir, I would feel no sorrow, no grief, if asked by counsel for both sides.

Senator Denis: Just maybe one last time. Are there any other occasions in which you have made unwelcomed comments or actions involving women over whom you had power?

Mr. Arnick: None that I am aware of, sir.

Senator Denis: None that you are aware of. OK.

Chairman Wagner: Any questions. Senator Dorman.

Sen. Arthur Dorman, D-Prince George's: Judge, in your testimony, you said something which is interesting to me. You said that Mrs. Nowak and Ms. Wolfer talked to you after that evening in either your office or somewhere?

Mr. Arnick: Yes, sir.

Senator Dorman: Did they come to your office?

Mr. Arnick: Yes.

Senator Dorman: I understand, it was a conversation privately with you and these.

Mr. Arnick: Yes, sir, concerning the status of the bill, potential problems and some of the questioning about why I was operating the procedure the way I was.

Senator Dorman: And then there was also a meeting of you and these two women again at the bill signing?

Mr. Arnick: I don't count that as a meeting. It was a big crowded room.

Senator Dorman: I am aware of the crowded room. Yes. OK. The conversation in your office or in committee, did anything come up about anything at all?

Mr. Arnick: No, sir.

Senator Dorman: Thank you.

Chairman Wagner: Any other questions of Judge Arnick?

Senator Denis: One last question. Did Nancy Nowak ever call you on the telephone subsequent to this event and recall this incident to you? And did you say that it was no big deal or words to that effect?

Mr. Arnick: No, sir.

Senator Denis: You don't recall that?

Mr. Arnick: No, sir.

Senator Denis: You don't recall that ever happening?

Mr. Arnick: I recall that never happening.

Chairman Wagner: Senator Green.

Sen. Leo E. Green, D-Prince George's: Judge, have you had the opportunity to hear a case under the domestic violence law?

Mr. Arnick: Yes -- no, sir. Let me correct that, Senator Green. I sat with a judge who was doing the domestic violence cases, and I explained and she had written to Senator [Norman R.] Stone, and what she did, and this was before, it had to be after this happened, and what she does, and what I did with her, the way she did it, I sat with her on a domestic violence case. She asked me to write what would you do, and then she compared it to what she was going to do. So I did do that.

Senator Green: Representative from the Women's Law Center said your alleged remarks would reflect a gender bias, you should be asked about your gender bias, sensitivity, compassion and your temperament. Would you care to comment on the remarks in relationship to the questions this woman asks?

Mr. Arnick: Yes, sir. I have no gender bias. I tried to, I tried to all my life, my problems growing up, treat all people like people, male, female persuasion, religiously, African-American, it never bothered me, never will bother me. My first experience in domestic violence matter, and you will understand why the lady will not show up, she has a new life to lead, goes back to when no one knew what domestic violence was when I first started practicing law in the 1960s. Friend of mine's wife called me 6 o'clock in the morning and she had been beaten miserably.

My participation at that point, since I knew both her and her husband, I got her to medical treatment and I got him out of the house by whatever means I thought was fit. We didn't have domestic violence laws. He was a friend and I got him to move out and I did not handle the divorce matter. That was my first experience. That lady now is married again and a very good friend of mine.

Chairman Wagner: Senator Stone.

Sen. Norman R. Stone Jr., D-Baltimore County: Just a couple of things. First of all, you have been practicing law about 31 years?

Mr. Arnick: About 31 years.

Senator Stone: You do a very active practice, as I recall since I have known you.

Mr. Arnick: Yes, sir.

Senator Stone: Can you give us a rough estimate maybe of how many women you represent during the course of a year?

Mr. Arnick: How many women I represent during the course of a year? Very few of my clientele. Most of my practice, the partnership and I, most of the criminal part of law, most of my clientele are not women. I do obviously some. As to divorce work, major divorce work in the office is handled by my partner since I don't do that.

Senator Stone: Partner is Bill Evans. Was Bill Evans, I am sorry.

Mr. Arnick: Yes, sir.

Senator Stone: I was trying to look for that letter and I think the members of the committee have it, but there is a letter from a judge who was down Monday night and had the opportunity to witness the entire procedure and she stayed around and took the time to write the committee and tell her experience thus far as far as Judge Arnick sitting with her on domestic violence situations. Thank you.

Chairman Wagner: Senator Blount.

Sen. Clarence W. Blount, D-Baltimore: Yes, the young lady accused you of being a racist. Are you?

Mr. Arnick: No, sir. I would match my record on that. As you know, senator, I came here in the early to mid-'60s and I don't have to tell you or anybody what I heard from lots of people when I went back to sponsor the bill after working on the human relations commission and you have heard my good friend Eddie Webster who I met through the system.

No, sir, I don't think anyone can ever say that about me. I have never, ever been. I lived in the Dundalk community. And the Turner Station community -- which you are more familiar with and most of the people may not be -- is in my district and is essentially an Afro-American village next to Dundalk with nothing separating them except one road. And I grew up the other side of that road, so I was back and forth all the time. It wasn't like I was in a different world. I have never been, never had any problems and my community never has. The second year I got elected, we had a problem and I led the ticket in Dundalk.

L Senator Blount: What percentage did you lead Turner Station?

Mr. Arnick: Oh, I have usually been a couple thousand ahead of everybody else.

Senator Blount: Actually in several of them that you had, they were the people who believed in you?

Mr. Arnick: Absolutely. Some of you may be aware, my last election I only won by six votes. I got almost 2,000 out of the Turner Station precinct.

Senator Blount: You are associated with the Sparrows Point Club, and I think I have seen you there several times. Do you know a Dr. Ted Patterson?

Mr. Arnick: Yes, sir, I know him very well, very personal friend.

Senator Blount: What is your relationship?

Mr. Arnick: Very good personal friend. Not my doctor unless I need an emergency. He lives down the street, we belong to the club together, socialize together, work together. His wife is very active in our church and he is such a friend, years ago I wanted to go to New Orleans and apparently his wife's father or something is a very big person down there and he arranged for me to meet him.

Senator Blount: Thank you very much.

Chairman Wagner: Senator Della.

[Earlier, a witness named Judy Hanford told the committee Mr. Arnick had dated her once or twice in the late 1960s, had later acted improperly while representing her husband in their divorce, and two years ago improperly accosted her at a party at a Towson restaurant.

[Her charges had been previously publicized and, before Ms. Hanford testified, another witness, Dee Young, had sought to undermine Ms. Hanford's assertions.]

Sen. George W. Della Jr., D-Baltimore: John, I wonder if you could help me out with something. We heard from a lady who testified earlier where you had represented her husband, and she has made certain allegations. Would you care to address those allegations?

Mr. Arnick: Yes, I would, senator. A couple of things about Ms. Hanford's statement.

First of all, let me start with 1967. I never dated Ms. Hanford. As far as I know, I don't think I even knew her in 1967. I represented her husband in a divorce case, yes. Very simple divorce case. No fault, no property, no nothing. I never, ever saw her during the divorce case, never. My secretary was going to testify about her part of that, and since Ms. Hanford, for whatever reason, switched things around on me, I think you will allow me to skip the hearsay rule. My secretary's notes are the lady called the office incessantly to talk to me and to her, and my message was, "I don't want to talk to her."

Mr. [Naz] Vellegia was here and owns that restaurant. He owns it, is a very good friend of mine. When I go there, I spend most of my time with him in one way, shape or form. He was here to testify, and he was there that night, and this never happened. But nothing like that ever happened in his bar.

Did I ever do anything like that to her or anybody in any bar? No, never. Have I ever in my life been hit, kicked or slapped by a woman other than my mother? No. I totally refute everything she said. At a bar once after the divorce she introduced herself to me in conversations, implications about, how about a dinner, how about a something, I will leave it at a dinner, how about a dinner, you are nice.

I never ever took her to a dinner, never dated her. Ran into her two or three more times in that bar, and it is a restaurant with a bar next to it, bar part of it, and one night a week, and I believe it is Tuesday, is like the social hour night, that is the big, crowded night, and ran into her there a couple of times, and that is all I know about the lady.

I would also add that though she claimed that she was late getting in here, she was very late getting in here, and Mr. Vellegia was standing there and she left, and that is when she reported being late, but as part of her testimony she quoted and attacked Dee Young's statement about you do it quickly, Dee Young did all of those things, and you will remember she quoted her reaction to that, and allegedly she wasn't here at that time.

Chairman Wagner: Senator Della.

Senator Della: John, both of these situations have evidently occurred in restaurants or drinking establishments.

Mr. Arnick: The dinner with the two lobbyists was in a restaurant, yes, sir, and this was in Vellegia's restaurants.

Senator Della: John, do you have a drinking problem?

Mr. Arnick: No. I do drink. Most of us drink, I do not have a drinking problem. Professionally, socially, family, dinner-wise, do I drink? Yes. I have never had a drinking problem.

Senator Della: Thank you.

Chairman Wagner: Any other questions? That concludes the confirmation hearing of John Arnick. I ask those of you who are leaving to leave quietly.

I ask those of you who are staying to stay quiet.

[Thereupon, at 4:08 p.m., the hearing was adjourned.]

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