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CRC In The News

Judge Roth quits foundation's board

The News Journal
May 15, 2005
Sean O'Sullivan

A little more than a year after a Washington watchdog group criticized U.S. 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Jane R. Roth for her association with a controversial Montana-based nonprofit, she has resigned her position with the organization's board.

A spokesman for the Foundation for Research on Economics and the Environment (FREE) confirmed this week that Roth has stepped down.

Roth, the widow of longtime Delaware U.S. Sen. Bill Roth, could not be reached for comment.

Last year the Community Rights Counsel, a public interest law firm, filed complaints against several judges, including Roth, for their association with the foundation.

Doug Kendall, executive director of Community Rights, said FREE is funded by the gas and oil industry and presents one-sided, industry-friendly information to judges on $10,000 vacations.

Among seminars offered to judges who accepted the junkets: "The Environment: A CEO's Perspective."

Kendall said the judges' association with the foundation was not illegal, but it raised serious ethical concerns about impartiality and undermined public trust in the judiciary.

Last year Roth defended her association with the foundation, saying it produced well-balanced educational programs for judges. "When Bill was alive, both he and I were members. We are both greatly interested in the environment and in no way did we feel this organization presents a biased view of environmental or economic issues," Roth said in 2004.

The foundation describes itself as "an organization devoted to social change that harmonizes environmental quality with responsible liberty and economic progress."

Roth's resignation from the board follows similar resignations by U.S. District Judge Andre Davis in Maryland and Chief Judge Douglas Ginsburg of the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C.

Kendall said only one judge, Chief Judge Danny Boggs of the 6th Circuit, remains on the foundation board.

In a statement, foundation chairman John A. Baden thanked Judge Roth for her "many years of service."

A foundation spokesman said Roth did not submit a letter of resignation, but informed the foundation verbally.

Kendall applauded Roth's decision to step aside, saying it was proof "of our simple point that judges cannot sit on the board of an organization that takes money from corporations to influence the outcome of environmental cases."

Among the corporations that fund the foundation are ExxonMobil, GE Fund, Maguire Oil Co. and Pfizer International.

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