Archive for the 'Recusal' Category
Both the prosecution and defense involved in former House Speaker Dennis Hastert’s criminal proceedings have given notice they do not object to U.S. District Judge Thomas Durkin continuing to preside over the case.
Judge Durkin had openly discussed issues that might lead a party to seek his recusal when he presided over Hastert’s arraignment earlier this week (see Gavel Grab). They included his donating, as a lawyer in private practice, $1,500 to Hastert congressional campaigns and his having worked in private practice with Hastert’s son. The judge said he was confident he could handle the case impartially.
According to Politico, Judge Durkin will continue to preside over the proceedings against Hastert.
The federal district court judge conducting former House Speaker Dennis Hastert’s arraignment, who as a private lawyer had donated $1,500 to Hastert campaigns, openly addressed issues about fair and impartial courts on Tuesday.
Judge Thomas Durkin, according to Politico, “announced at the hearing that he was provisionally recusing himself due to several personal and family ties to Hastert, Hastert’s relatives and the Republican Party, as well as lawyers on both the defense and prosecution teams.” He also said that if both sides concurred, his recusal could be waived. The judge said he was confident he could be impartial.
The Washington Post reported on the proceeding in a somewhat different manner, saying Judge Durkin “acknowledged that the potential appearance of a conflict of interest created grounds for disqualification. Durkin gave Hastert and prosecutors until Thursday to review his disclosures and determine whether to waive his offer to step aside.”
Opposing sides are slugging it out over a recent request by attorneys for ExxonMobil Corp., BP America Co., Chevron Corp., and several independent energy companies that Louisiana Supreme Court Justice Jeff Hughes step aside from participating in review of two environmental cases, due to campaign spending by trial lawyers (see Gavel Grab).
A group of trial lawyers who helped Justice Hughes win election in 2012 opposed the motion for him to recuse, the Louisiana Record reported. Lawyer John Carmouche, who founded the Citizens for Clean Water and Land PAC that spent thousands in support of Hughes, said campaign support for a candidate does not translate into bias in the courtroom.
“You take an oath as a Supreme Court justice of the State of Louisiana to be fair and impartial,” Carmouche said. “If we are saying they cannot then we are saying the whole system is flawed.” Louisiana Record, a legal publication, is owned by the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform.
A Chicago Daily Herald editorial urged U.S. District Judge Thomas Durkin to step aside from handling a criminal proceeding against former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert. When Durkin was a private attorney, he donated $1,500 to Hastert’s congressional campaigns (see Gavel Grab).
“The connections between the two men don’t necessarily set the stage for bias in the handling of the court proceedings. And some legal experts are of the opinion the ties between Hastert and Durkin are not substantial enough to mandate the judge recuse himself,” the editorial said.
“Still, in a case this sensitive, it would be best for the judge to head off any appearance of his political and professional links to the defendant affecting the outcome.” Read more
U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Durkin, assigned to handle a criminal proceeding against former House Speaker Dennis Hastert, donated at least a total of $1,500 to Hastert’s campaigns in the past, when the judge was a private attorney, according to Politico.
The article said the donations could raise questions about the judge’s impartiality, and it also noted that the judge’s brother belongs to the state Republican leadership in Illinois. Hastert is an Illinois Republican. An ethics expert quoted by Politico, Stephen Gillers of New York University, said the political donations were not likely to require the judge to recuse himself from the proceedings.
Judge Durkin is a former prosecutor. He was nominated for the bench by President Obama. The donations to Hastert’s congressional campaigns were made in 2002 and 2004.
Attorneys for ExxonMobil Corp., BP America Co., Chevron Corp., and several independent energy companies have asked Louisiana Supreme Court Justice Jeff Hughes to step aside from participating in review of two environmental cases, due to campaign spending by trial lawyers.
The Louisiana Record reported that the energy companies said plaintiffs’ lawyers made a series of campaign donations to a PAC that supported Hughes’s election in 2012 while the two cases were pending, and as a result, the oil companies’ right to due process was compromised. The plaintiffs’ lawyers spent almost $400,000 to help Hughes win election, according to the recusal motions.
The PAC’s spending captured attention at the time of the 2012 election (see Gavel Grab). Louisiana Record, a legal publication, is owned by the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform.
When the Wisconsin Supreme Court holds oral arguments on challenges to a campaign finance investigation, it would be ill-advised to do so in secret, as organizations trying to end the investigation have asked, a Beloit Daily News editorial declares.
Four justices on the court benefited from big spending by the organizations, and for them to participate in hearing the case would represent “a conflict of interest of astonishing proportions,” the editorial says.
“If those justices stay on the case and decide it, let’s call it what it is — corruption,” the editorial asserts. It adds, “Corruption is easier to practice when no one is allowed to watch.” It argues for open proceedings and adds, “The people have a right to decide for themselves if justice is now for sale in Wisconsin.”
Earlier, a Wall Street Journal editorial took a sharply different view (see Gavel Grab), saying recusal would not be required under the state’s code of judicial conduct or under the standard set by a landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling.
A special prosecutor’s recusal request before the Wisconsin Supreme Court has garnered national attention, including a supportive New York Times editorial (see Gavel Grab) and a Brennan Center for Justice amicus brief. Now a Wall Street Journal editorial argues against recusal.
The editorial is entitled, “The Left’s Recusal Gambit: A prosecutor and his allies try to rig a judicial appeal in Wisconsin.” (It is searchable through Google). The editorial’s authors say they reviewed the motion that one or more Wisconsin Supreme Court justices recuse themselves from hearing challenges to a campaign finance investigation. Four justices are reported to have benefited from multimillion-dollar spending by three groups involved in the cases. Read more
For the second time, the Illinois Supreme Court has rejected a request by a plaintiff’s attorney to disqualify Justice Lloyd Karmeier from participating in hearing an appeal involving Philip Morris USA, according to the Madison-St. Clair Record.
Meanwhile, “The Court also indicated that a motion for his recusal has been referred to Karmeier,” the newspaper reported. Read more
A “fiasco” playing out in the Wisconsin Supreme Court leaves no doubt as to the “toxic effects of outsize spending in judicial elections,” the New York Times declared in an editorial. In making its case, the editorial linked to a public opinion poll by Justice at Stake and the Brennan Center for Justice.
As mentioned earlier by Gavel Grab, a special prosecutor has requested that one or more Wisconsin Supreme Court justices recuse themselves from hearing challenges to a campaign finance investigation. Four justices are reported to have benefited from multimillion-dollar spending by three groups involved in the cases.
Whether to recuse “should not be a hard call,” the editorial said, “but under a pitifully weak rule in Wisconsin’s code of judicial conduct, judges do not have to recuse themselves over independent spending related to their campaigns.” By contrast, the U.S. Supreme Court declared a more robust standard in Caperton v. Massey, it said, referring to a landmark runaway judicial election spending case from West Virginia. Read more