California September 18,
Federal Judges Suffering
More and more in our complicated world of
investment businesses, federal judges are having to apologize when caught in
conflicts of interest, with the words, "Sorry, I just didn't remember that I
owned corporate stock in that company which is litigating before me." This
conflict of interest is becoming so common place that they generally argue
the same defense, i.e., they just didn't know.
What's more is that none of these judges suffer any
punishment for their clear violations of law. In other words, the message
is established, "Ignorance by judges is an irrefutable defense." But with
everyone else, ignorance is no excuse! Just ask those that were
at the top executive positions of Enron, and other corporate scandals
wherein ignorance was claimed.
Just imagine a system if all thieves had to do at
worse when caught was return what they stole. Yet, this is
clearly the standard set for federal judges caught engaging in deciding
cases in which they own stock.
This conflict is becoming so common-place, it would
imply that every federal judge should ethically post outside his courtroom
a complete and true list of everything of which the judge owns so anyone with a
case in his court could see before entering court if the judges had a
conflict of interest. However, when such issues are raised on this
point, there has been every blockage raised from federal judges claiming
privacy from having to reveal their holdings. Just try to probe into the
holdings of any federal judge in which you have a case, and see how far you get.
The only way you can find out is if it becomes a matter of open
Who in their wildest imagination could ever attempt to
justify such a unaccountable system as that enjoyed by federal judges.
But this is the benefits granted federal judges for serving as the
protective alligators in the mote that surrounds the Executive and
Legislative Castle. As hand-in-glove, they must each protect one
another, clearly establishing the need for judicial accountability offered by
J.A.I.L. - Ron Branson
New York Daily News
http://www.nydailynews.comFed judges in stocks
By GREG B. SMITH
Monday, September 15th, 2003
In July 1997, Manhattan
Federal Judge Milton Pollack awarded $29 million to Chase Manhattan Bank in a
routine contract dispute, the kind that shows up in courts every day. The case
was ordinary - the ruling was anything but.
At the time, Pollack and his family owned up to $300,000 worth of stock in
the beneficiary of his ruling: Chase. Even after Pollack said he realized he
owned Chase stock, records show he then sold it for a gain of $50,000 to
$100,000 - and stayed on the case anyway.
Last week, an appeals court vacated Pollack's award, calling the veteran
judge's conflict "an abuse of discretion" and ordering that a different
Manhattan federal judge take the case.
But Pollack is not the only judge whose stock holdings
conflict-of-interest questions. The Daily News found several other New
York federal judges who owned stock in companies involved in lawsuits in their
With a rise in the number of New York-based shareholder suits since the
1990s Wall Street bubble burst, such judicial conflicts - which the law strictly
prohibits - have become increasingly difficult to avoid, experts say. "I can't
understand why any judge sitting in New York would own stock in any company
likely to litigate in New York," said lawyer Daniel Levitt, who successfully
appealed Pollack's ruling. "New York judges should not be owning stock in
financial houses, banks, Verizon. These are the people who wind up in their
The law states clearly that federal judges must recuse themselves from
cases involving parties in which they have any financial interest. But no one
judges the judges, who are appointed by the President to
for life. They are supposed to monitor themselves. "It is a self-policing
system and it is destined to break down from time to time," said Steven Lubet, a
law professor at Northwestern University's Chicago campus.
Manhattan and Brooklyn federal courts are no exception. A review of court
records and financial disclosure forms found several sitting judges with
possible conflicts of interest. ....
"..it does not require a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless
minority keen to set brush fires in people's minds.." - Samuel Adams
"There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who
striking at the
-- Henry David Thoreau