Judge removes himself from Amazon case after questions about financial conflict

A judge removed himself from a case involving Amazon after questions about potential financial conflict arose.

U.S. District Judge Liam O’Grady removed himself from a 20-month civil case he had been overseeing between Amazon and two former employees after it was discovered his wife owned around $22,000 in Amazon stock, The Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday.

The civil case involves Amazon suing the two former employees for allegedly violating its conflict-of-interest policies.

O’Grady stepped back from the case after the Journal reported on his wife’s financial connections, saying he did not know his wife had stock in the company. The stocks were sold after the report.

O’Grady commented in a hearing that the “idea that I would steer this case in Amazon’s favor because I felt that my wife’s $22,000 investment in Amazon’s stock would be at risk if I didn’t is literally — is almost insane.”

He said in an order Monday that he did not feel the need to step down, as the stocks have been sold and there is no evidence he has been biased, but that he would do so to remove any hint of impropriety.

“However, perception of the fair administration of justice—both by the public and by the parties in the case—is of the highest importance to the Court,” O’Grady wrote.

He also noted that he ruled against Amazon in another case back in May, according to the Journal. 

Judge Michael Nachmanoff was assigned the case, which will likely result in expensive delays due to the almost 500 docket entries the new judge must go through. 

The Journal found 66 other cases O’Grady was in charge of where his wife had investments in one of the parties. O’Grady told the outlet he is going through his case list and notifying appropriate parties.

He said he did not know about his wife’s stocks since they are handled by an investment adviser. 

Tags Amazon Conflict of interest Judicial conflict of interest The Wall Street Journal

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