Conflicts on the Bench

In this series of reports, Will Evans of the Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR) found that two federal judges – who had been nominated by President Bush to some of the highest courts in the nation – were repeatedly violating the law on judicial conflicts of interest. As a result of the stories, published first on Salon.com, one of the judges withdrew his nomination to a higher court. The other faced heightened scrutiny and controversy over his ethical violations, and ultimately was not renominated by the president.

Bush Nominee Appears to Violate Conflict of Interest Rules | January 23, 2006

Click here for CIR’s first story documenting conflicts of interest by Judge James H. Payne, who was nominated by President Bush in September 2005 to join the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, based in Denver. Payne issued more than 100 orders in at least 18 cases that involved corporations in which he owned stock, a review of court and financial records shows.

Bush Judge Under Ethics Cloud | January 31, 2006

Following CIR’s investigation, Judge Payne abruptly recused himself from two lawsuits against drug titan Pfizer, which he had invested in since 1999. The chief judge of the 10th Circuit Court and Senate judiciary committee staff told CIR they plan to look further into Payne's reported violations of federal law, while senators from the judge's home state reaffirmed their support of the nominee.

Bush Judge's Rating Lowered | March 2, 2006

In an unusual move, the American Bar Association lowered its rating of Judge Payne. The ABA decided to reevaluate the judge after hearing of his conflicts of interest.

Bush Withdraws Nominee | March 8, 2006

Documents Show Controversial Bush Judge Broke Ethics Law | May 1, 2006

Click here for CIR's first story documenting conflicts of interest by Judge Terrence W. Boyle, a long-time federal judge in North Carolina, who was nominated by President Bush in 2001 to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, based in Richmond, Va. This report shows that since his nomination, Boyle issued orders in at least nine cases that involved five different corporations in which he reported stock holdings, according to financial and court documents.

Key Bush Judge Under Ethics Cloud | May 3, 2006

Key Democrats denounced Terrence Boyle on Capitol Hill, after a CIR report revealed that the controversial judge violated federal law on conflicts of interest. As the debate over Boyle heated up, the White House acknowledged that Boyle should have recused himself in cases involving companies in which he owned stock - but continued its support of the nominee.

Bench Warfare | May 23, 2006

With Boyle's nomination hanging in doubt, a group of fourteen former law clerks to the judge launched an ambitious campaign to support him. They circulated a two-page memo aiming to refute, point-by-point, the CIR report. The memo, however, failed to disprove any aspect of the CIR report. In fact, it contained numerous distortions and factual errors, and ignored the letter of federal ethics law.

Embattled Bush Judge Disputes Salon Report | July 13, 2006

In his first public response to the ethical violations revealed by CIR, Judge Boyle admitted to presiding over several cases in which he held a financial interest. Boyle, however, said the conflicts were inadvertent, minor mistakes. In a letter to Republican leaders, Boyle also disputed several of the conflicts, contradicting his own financial filings and the ethics rules. For those violations he acknowledged, Boyle wrote: "While my stock holdings were relatively insignificant, I regret that the oversight occurred."

Timeline of Uncertainty for Bush Judicial Nominee

The likelihood of a Senate vote on the nomination of Judge Boyle has generated considerable speculation since CIR first revealed his conflicts of interest. Here are some of the recent developments concerning the Boyle nomination, including the American Bar Association's downgrade of Boyle's rating on July 17.

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