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131 federal judges failed to recuse themselves from cases in which they had financial interest: report


One hundred and thirty-one federal judges oversaw court cases involving companies in which they or their family members owned stock, according to a new investigation.

Those judges violated U.S. law and judicial ethics as they failed to recuse themselves from a total of 685 court cases in which they may have had a conflict of interest, an investigation by The Wall Street Journal found.

In those cases, about two-thirds of the rulings were in favor of the financial interests of the judge, the Journal reported. 

The cases took place between 2010 and 2020, and of the two-thirds of federal district judges who disclosed individual stock holdings, about 20 percent of them heard at least one case that involved their stock, according to the Journal.

After the Journal notified the judges of its findings, 56 of them began to alert parties involved in 329 of the lawsuits of their conflict of interest.

The judges gave the Journal various explanations for failing to recuse themselves, including issues with conflict-screening search software and their insignificant roles in cases that did not require legal exemptions.

While nothing prohibits judges from holding individual stocks, the code of conduct for federal judges requires that they recuse themselves given any financial interest in a case or “ownership of a legal or equitable interest, however small.”

“The Wall Street Journal’s report on instances where conflicts inadvertently were not identified before a case was resolved or transferred is troubling, and the Administrative Office is carefully reviewing the matter,” the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts told the Journal. 

The Hill has reached out to the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts for comment.

Tags Conflict of interest Federal judges Legal ethics

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