At least 131 federal judges presided over court cases that involved companies that either they or their families had a financial stake in, an apparent violation of U.S. law and judicial ethics, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Although judges are not barred from owning stock, a federal law does prohibit them from hearing cases that concern a party they, their spouse, or their child, if a minor, has a “legal or equitable interest, however small,” and the Judicial Conference of the U.S. requires judges avoid even appearing to have a conflict of interest in a case they hear. The newspaper found in an investigation, 131 judges improperly failed to recuse themselves from 685 court cases across the country in the past 10 years.
The Journal reported roughly two-in-three federal district judges have disclosed stocks, and about one out of every five who did so also heard at least one case that concerned one of those stocks, and about two-thirds of rulings on contested motions were decided in favor of the company that they or their family has a financial stake in. When informed of these violations, 56 of the judges went on to notify the parties in over 300 lawsuits they should have recused themselves from these cases.
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