Federal judges rule on cases in which they have a financial stake

 

McClatchy Washington Bureau

Federal appellate judges from Raleigh to Miami to Fairbanks, Alaska have ruled on cases in which they had a financial stake, a Center for Public Integrity investigation has found.

Raleigh’s Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Allyson Duncan owned as much as $100,000 in Verizon stock when she sat on a 2011 panel that affirmed a lower court ruling in favor of Verizon South. A Verizon employee sued the company for “unlawful termination” after she was fired. It was one of two cases before her in which she ruled in Verizon’s favor.

On a third case in 2010, Duncan sat on a panel that affirmed a district court order dismissing a plaintiff’s federal civil rights lawsuit in which General Electric was named as a party. The judge’s 2010 financial disclosures found that she owned General Electric stock, as part of a trust valued at up to $5 million, the Center found.

Federal judges may not sit on cases in which they have a financial interest, according to federal law. Yet the Center found more than two dozen instances where judges have ruled on cases in which they have stock or other financial holdings.

“Considering the importance of judicial integrity and avoidance of conflict of interest, I don’t think it is asking too much of a judge to expect him or her to know what his or her holdings are,” said William G. Ross, a Samford University law professor told the Center.

The Center examined the three most recent years of financial disclosure reports filed by 255 of the 258 judges who sit on the nation’s 13 appellate circuits. Judges owned stock in a company with a case before them on 24 occasions. In two additional cases, the judges had financial ties with law firms working on the cases before them.

Duncan is one of 16 judges that have had letters sent to parties in 26 cases disclosing the financial conflict of interest. Via a letter from the clerk of the court, Duncan acknowledged the mistake that “would have required the judge's recusal.” The clerk explained the judge was serving as an executor of a relative's estate at the time the case was pending. The judge sought to liquidate the account, but the Verizon stock had yet to be sold by the time she was assigned to the panel.

Read more Politics Wires stories from the Miami Herald

  • Annual Ford dinner to celebrate 90th birthday

    The annual Wendell Ford Dinner that honors the longtime Kentucky political leader will be held Thursday at a hotel in Louisville.

  •  
In this July 23, 2014Indonesian president-elect Joko Widodo greets supporters with his 'three-finger greeting' symbolizing 'The Unity of Indonesia', the third of Indonesia's five principles, during a gathering in Jakarta. President Barack Obama’s quick congratulation for Indonesia’s election victor Widodo, even as the losing candidate rejected the result, underscores Washington’s intent to deepen ties with Jakarta and support democracy in Southeast Asia.

    US hails Indonesia democracy in turbulent SE Asia

    President Barack Obama's quick congratulation for Indonesia's election victor Joko Widodo, even as the losing candidate rejected the result, underscores Washington's intent to deepen ties with Jakarta and support democracy in Southeast Asia.

  • US hails Indonesia democracy in turbulent SE Asia

    President Barack Obama is congratulating Indonesia's presidential election victor Joko Widodo (JOH-koh WI-doh-doh), even as the losing candidate rejected the result.

Miami Herald

Join the
Discussion

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category