The Center for Public Integrity evaluated disclosure rules for state Supreme Court judges in all 50 states and Washington, D.C., examining how difficult it is for the public to determine whether judges may have potential conflicts of interest. The results of the exhaustive research are sobering:
Forty-two states and the District of Columbia received a failing grade in a Center evaluation of disclosure requirements for high court judges. And not a single state earned an A or a B.
After reviewing three years of personal financial disclosures, the Center found judges who authored opinions favoring companies in which they owned stock. The Center found judges who ruled on cases even when family members were receiving income from one of the parties.
The Center also found that enforcement of disclosure rules is spotty. Twelve states, for example, rely on self-policing disciplinary bodies — made up of high-court justices themselves — to enforce the courts' ethics rules.
Pennsylvania squeaked by with a 'D' grade, earning points for its requirements that judges disclose gifts and their value, and sources of income for judges and spouses. But Pennsylvania lost points because judges aren't required to disclose how much income they earned. And, the state doesn't require judges to disclose stocks or investments.
Read the full Center for Public Integrity report here. What do you think; should there be more rules requiring judges to disclose potential conflicts of interest, or are there enough regulations in place already?