5/6/14 Conflict of Interest

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One of every 10 federal appeals court judges has sat on a court case in which they’ve had a financial stake in the outcome.

The Center for Public Integrity reviewed the financial disclosures filed by 255 of the 258 judges sitting on appellate courts.  They found 26 judges could financially gain from the outcome of cases before them.  Two dozen owned stock in companies that had cases before the judges.  Two others had financial ties to law firms involved in the cases.

There is a federal law and federal court rules that prohibit a judge from sitting on a case in which he has a financial interest in the outcome.

It’s possible some, all or none of the judges knew of the conflicts of interest.

One of the judges singled out by CPI was James Hill [appointed to the federal bench in 1976 by President Jimmy Carter] of the 11th Court of Appeals, in Atlanta, Georgia.

Hill was involved in four court cases in which he had a financial conflict of interest.  In all four cases, the outcome worked to his financial benefit.  Hill has claimed he didn’t know the details of his financial holdings.

After having been notified by CPI of the group’s findings, 16 judges notified parties involved in the affected cases, which is the first step to reopening those cases.

Making financial disclosures open to public inspection is the best disinfectant.

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