Federal Judges Suffering Amnesia
- J.A.I.L. News Journal
Los Angeles, California September 18, 2003Federal Judges Suffering Amnesia
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 publicity.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 Newshttp://www.nydailynews.com
Fed judges in stocks
By GREG B. SMITH
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER
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 raise
conflict-of-interest questions. The Daily News found several other New York federal judges who owned stock in companies involved in lawsuits in their courts.Strictly prohibitedWith 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 courts."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
$136,000-a-year jobs 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. ....
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