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CRC News Releases

Investigation Shows Startling, High-Stakes Judicial Junketing Conflicts

Group Files Unprecedented Ethics Complaint Against
Three High-Ranking Federal Judges

: 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 companies' interests.

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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