Contact: Doug Kendall or Jason Rylander, 202-296-6889
WASHINGTON -- A major new investigation released March 22,
2004 provides startling evidence that corporations are using
junkets for federal judges to buy access to federal judges
who preside over important environmental cases involving the
Community Rights Counsel (CRC), a public interest law firm
and judicial watchdog organization, found
in its three-year investigation the first evidence that
a corporate-sponsored junketing program targets judges presiding
over important cases involving those corporations.
In response to what it uncovered in its three-year investigation,
Community Rights Counsel (CRC) is taking the unprecedented
step of simultaneously filing ethics
complaints against the three federal appellate judges
who sit on the board of the junket host, Foundation for Research
on Economics and the Environment (FREE).
Criticism of the hundreds of federal judges who have gone
on junkets sponsored by FREE and other, similar programs have
plagued the federal bench for more than five years. Legal
ethics experts, newspaper editorial pages, public watchdog
organizations, and citizen groups have repeatedly warned that
groups could use junkets in an attempt to influence the outcome
of particular cases.
CRC has now found disturbing evidence that they are.
"It's Judicial Ethics 101 that you can't serve on the
board of an organization that takes money from corporations
to influence the outcome of cases they have before your court,"
said CRC Executive Director Doug Kendall. "It's outrageous
that these junkets continue, and it's doubly outrageous that
federal judges serve on the junketing program's board."
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