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Community Rights Counsel
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Washington, DC 20036
Phone: 202-296-6889
Fax: 202-296-6895

How CRC Exposes Judicial Lobbying by Special Interests:
CRC's Work Against Stock Conflicts

There is no greater violation of the public trust than cases in which a judge rules despite having a financial interest in one of the parties or in the outcome of the litigation. That is why CRC's documentation of a large number of important cases in which judges have ruled despite disqualifying conflicts of interest has generated so much outrage by ethics experts, policy makers, and editorial boards.

In 1999, CRC released a comprehensive study of the rulings of federal appellate judges and discovered that, in a single year, 5 percent of these judges, including prominent conservatives such as Alex Kozinski, Laurence Silberman, and Daniel Manion, ruled in cases despite disqualifying financial conflicts of interest. This report was chronicled in a front-page story and same-day editorial in The Washington Post and in a detailed feature report on NPR. It generated numerous follow-up stories and editorials in papers across the country and helped trigger a hearing by the Judiciary Committee of the House of Representatives where CRC testified.

In 2002, CRC chronicled the fact that D. Brooks Smith, then a nominee to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, had presided over two cases where his financial interests were very much at stake. This stock conflict was deemed "one of the most serious I've seen" by a preeminent ethics expert, and it led The Washington Post to editorialize against Smith's confirmation based entirely on the ethics issues CRC raised and publicized.

In July 2003, CRC filed an ethics complaint after discovering that the Wyoming District Court judge who struck down the Roadless Area Conservation Policy (which protects 58 million acres of roadless national forests from resource extraction activities) has approximately half of his net worth in stock and royalty interests in the oil and gas industry. This filing of this complaint was covered in virtually every national paper including The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Today, and Los Angeles Times. CRC and CREW appealed the complaint after it was inappropriately dismissed on a technicality by the Chief Judge of the Tenth Circuit. It was unfortunately denied. (To view a complete list of media coverage generated by the complaint, click here.)



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