How to look up your judge

When checking on potential financial conflicts, a good place to start is the judge’s investment list. Every federal judge and magistrate judge must submit a report of their financial interests every year to the Administrative Office of the United States Courts in Washington D.C. Filings from the last six years are kept on file there. Apart from annual reports, judges file a nearly identical financial disclosure form when nominated for a judgeship.

Start with his or her financial disclosure forms, which list stock holdings.

  • Download this request form: http://www.uscourts.gov/forms/AO010a.pdf
  • Print and fax the completed form to (202) 502-1899 and mail the original to: Office of the Committee on Financial Disclosure, Administrative Office of the United States Courts, Suite 2-301, One Columbus Circle, N.E., Washington, D.C. 20544
  • You can request up to the last 6 years of filings
  • The office will take about two weeks before notifying you of how much your request will cost (copies are 20 cents per page). During this time, the judge will be notified who is making the request. Judges also have an opportunity to redact information.
  • Questions about the request process can be directed to the Committee on Financial Disclosure at (202) 502-1850.Then compare the financial interests to the parties in cases that have come before the judge.
  • You can look up cases at the judge’s courthouse, or remotely, by using the online PACER system (Public Access to Court Electronic Records)
  • Look up the PACER web page for the court you want.
  • Generally you can search by case number or the name of a party or attorney, but not by the judge’s name. To see if a judge sat on cases involving the companies you are interested in, you must look up each case involving those companies and then check who the judge was.
  • For questions, contact the PACER Service Center at (800) 676-6856 or (210) 301-6440.Remember:
  • The law covers federal judges, not state judges. Ethics rules covering state judges may vary.
  • Check for subsidiaries of the companies too.
  • Mutual funds are different: generally a judge who invests in a mutual fund can sit on a case involving the mutual fund company or the stocks in the mutual fund’s portfolio

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