Senator Patrick Leahy On A Tribute to Maurice Geiger

Mr. President, I rise to recognize Maurice Geiger, known by family and friends as Maury, an extraordinary individual who, although a long-time resident of Conway, New Hampshire with his wife Nancy is deserving of the title of honorary Vermonter. 

Maury Geiger’s lengthy career began in the U.S. Navy back in the 1950s, from where he went on to Georgetown Law School and jobs at the Bureau of Prisons and the Department of Justice.  He later served as a county prosecutor in New Hampshire, founded the Rural Justice Center in Montpelier, Vermont where I first got to know him, became a national expert in court administration, and has provided advice and guidance to help reform dysfunctional justice systems in foreign countries for more than two decades. 

In no country has Maury devoted more passion, time and energy than Haiti, where justice has long been more of a fantasy than a reality for the majority of the Haitian people. 

Since the 1990s Maury has traveled to Haiti scores of times, often paying out of his own pocket.  His purpose was simple:  to help improve access to justice for thousands of people caught up in a byzantine system in which it is common to be detained in squalid, grossly overcrowded, sweltering prisons rampant with life-threatening diseases, for months and years without ever seeing a lawyer or judge or being formally charged with any crime. 

Over the years, often against great odds, Maury has worked to train numerous Haitian prosecutors, judges, and other judicial officials, and to institute record keeping systems to improve case management and reduce the chance that inmates are forgotten or their case files are lost.  

Maury is not only among a handful of the most experienced experts in the field of court administration, he is a person of exemplary integrity.  He has never had the slightest interest in profiting himself, as his modest lifestyle demonstrates, but rather to do whatever he could to provide help and dignity to those who are the least able to help themselves.  He has done so, year after year, with uncommon compassion and commitment, never losing his wry sense of humor, in a country where the political will for justice reform at the highest levels of government has often been weak or lacking altogether. 

Maury is in Haiti again this week, and I want him to know that the example he has set of selflessness, of caring, commitment to human rights and equal access to justice, and of an unwavering belief in the basic dignity of all people regardless of their station in life, is one that every law student, every lawyer, every prosecutor, every judge, and every prison warden should strive to emulate.

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