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THE JUDGE'S LONG GOODBYE

This would be different. For nearly twenty years, Philip Marquardt had been a Superior Court judge. Whenever he took the bench to speak, people listened with respect.

Others had reason to await his words with baited breath because Marquardt was regarded as a judge who handed down harsh sentences.

In a single sitting, he once sentenced two men to their deaths.
The other day, Marquardt walked, head bowed, into a conference room in the offices of Michael Kimerer, one of the most skilled defense lawyers in this part of the country.

Waiting for Marquardt was an inordinately large crowd of reporters. Positioned among them were twelve television cameras, including the two that were set up in the hallway to catch footage of Marquardt's arrival and departure from the room.

Marquardt wore a blue suit with a blue shirt. Kimerer, bearded and with an expressionless face, sat at his side.

Marquardt's father, known as "Fritz," who served on the staff of General Douglas MacArthur during World War II and became a close friend to Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos, stood against a wall in the midst of the crowd.

The elder Marquardt is always a critical factor when Judge Marquardt's legal career is discussed. There are those who insist that it was only because Fritz was editor of the Arizona Republic that his son was appointed to the bench by former Governor Jack Williams.

"This is one of the hardest things that I've ever had to do," Judge Marquardt began, his voice slightly choked. "I'm quite scared, so please bear with me." Everyone had been listening intently. Marquardt's words and nervous demeanor heightened their sense of expectation.

"I want to tell you that I have a serious problem, an addiction to marijuana," Marquardt said, getting the words out with difficulty.

"What happened at my residence has brought me to the very bottom of my career and my life. And it is time to face reality now." In all the years of covering fallen public men, I don't remember an apology so abject. In a few short words, Marquardt had succeeded in baring his soul to the entire state of Arizona.

"I know that denial is part of my disease," he said. "It's time for me to stop denying . . . I hope this starts the healing process." He apologized to everyone he hurt. He also apologized to the voters who elected him despite an arrest and conviction in Texas for possession of marijuana.

"I hope they understand I did not fail them as a judge. I failed them as a human being." There was an embarrassed silence after Marquardt finished.

Tears glistened in his father's eyes.
"Are you ready to admit now that the marijuana in Texas was yours?" a reporter asked.

A good question. Marquardt testified under oath that someone had slipped the marijuana to him and that he had placed it in his pocket under the assumption that it was a condom.

If he now admitted to lying about that incident, could he brought back to face perjury charges in Texas?

"For a long time I have been in denial," he said. "That's all I can say about Texas." "When was the last time you smoked marijuana?" he was asked. "Was it one year . . . ten years?" Marquardt suddenly seemed distraught. He appeared totally unsure of himself.

"I . . . ," he hesitated. "It must have been several months ago . . . I just don't know . . . It's a while ago . . . It's not recently." This was his worst moment. Clearly, anyone who is addicted to marijuana, even on a mild basis, knows almost to the day and hour when he smoked his last joint.

"Oh, it's over a period of time," Marquardt said, clearly flustered. "It must have been several months ago . . . I just don't know . . . It's a while ago . . . It's not recently." You had to wonder what the often stern and implacable Judge Marquardt would have said to such an imprecise answer if it had been given to him by a prisoner appearing before him on charges of possessing marijuana?

"Can you say how often you used the drug?" he was asked.
There was to be no answer to that question.
"Is there a possibility of perjury that could be filed against you, based on the Texas trial?" The room must have seemed like it was beginning to close in on Marquardt. He decided to retreat without appearing to flee.

Once again, he failed to answer.
Then, summoning all his strength to give himself the appearance of judicial rectitude, Marquardt concluded with a flourish he might have directed from the bench in days past.

"Thank you very much for coming down and hearing me," Judge Marquardt said. "Good day." Moments later, he walked out of the building with his father. The two of them got into his yellow four-door Mercedes and drove away.

The elder Marquardt is always a critical factor when Judge Marquardt's legal career is discussed.

Marquardt's words and nervous demeanor heightened their sense of expectation.

Anyone who is addicted to marijuana, even on a mild basis, knows almost to the day and hour when he smoked his last joint.

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Tom Fitzpatrick