Sorting out the conflicts of interest violations on the federal bench will take a toll on credibility
The conflict of interest problems that roiled the federal judiciary a few months ago continue to make waves, this time with appeals courts having to decide whether to overturn decisions lower court judges made. As the Wall Street Journal, which has been all over this story, reports:
Overall, at least 55 cases overseen by judges with recusal violations have been appealed, reconsidered or reassigned to new judges. How newly assigned judges or appellate courts resolve the conflicts could affect public perception of the judicial system, legal experts said. A Wall Street Journal investigation last year revealed that more than 130 judges violated the financial-conflict law.
In these contested cases, appellate judges will be faced with deciding between fairness and efficiency, legal experts said. Litigants crying foul are asking that judgments be vacated. The other sides argue that the judges’ conflicts amounted to minor errors and that rehearing a case will cost time and money.
Vacating a judgment “is inconvenient, it’s inefficient, it’s time-consuming,” said James Sample, a Hofstra University law professor. Yet inconvenience and inefficiency are “problems that the judges themselves have created,” he said.
Judges created this mess…judges will have to sort it out. In the meantime, the judiciary’s reputation for fairness and impartiality…it’s most valuable commodity… will suffer.