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Judges to Leave Environmental Group's Board

The Washington Post
May 7, 2005
Carol D. Leonnig

Two federal appeals court judges in Washington resigned yesterday from the board of an organization that opposes environmental regulations, ending an ethics controversy surrounding their roles.

Chief Circuit Judge Douglas H. Ginsburg of the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington and Judge Jane R. Roth of the Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit announced their resignations yesterday, according to a news release posted on the organization's Web site.

The resignations came a day after a court decision revealed that another judge had stepped down from the board of the Foundation for Research on Economics and Environment (FREE). Maryland federal Judge Andre Davis's decision ended an ethics complaint filed against him by a public interest environmental advocacy firm.

The Community Rights Counsel's complaint charged that Davis, Ginsburg, Roth and Judge Danny J. Boggs, of the 6th Circuit, could not impartially do their jobs and serve on the board of a group that advocated a position corporations have pressed in federal court.

In a letter to FREE board Chairman John A. Baden, Ginsburg said he had "reluctantly" chosen to resign and praised the group's academic seminars for judges.

"As a judge, however, I am not in a position to constantly be correcting the false impressions and calumnies that appear in the press," Ginsburg wrote.

Roth could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Douglas T. Kendall, attorney for the Community Rights Counsel, said the resignations prove "the simple point that a judge cannot sit on the board of an organization that takes money from corporations to influence the outcome of environmental cases."

Baden said he was "very sorry" that the judges had resigned. "They have been excellent participants and discussion leaders" during the seminars, he said.

© 2005 The Washington Post Company

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