Federal judges’ financial conflicts add to mistrust of the judicial system

Zero Accountability over 700 Judges Violations of Law on Conflicts

A recent Wall Street Journal investigation found that over the last decade, 131 federal judges failed to recuse themselves in hundreds of cases that involved their own financial interests. Chief Justice of the Supreme Court John Roberts, in his year-end review of the federal judiciary, said the report’s findings indicate a “serious problem of inadequate ethics training,” especially for those judges who had numerous violations. The conflicts of interest primarily include judges hearing cases involving their or their families’ stock holdings, which ultimately tainted some 685 court cases. Given the rising concerns that the federal judiciary is becoming increasingly politicized, the newspaper’s findings are deeply troubling, says Martha Davis, university distinguished professor of law at Northeastern, adding that the violations only “compound the lack of trust that the federal judiciary seems to be breeding.” “What’s at stake here is a lot,” Davis says. “We have a judiciary for various reasons already losing the trust of the American people, and the evidence that federal judges are hearing cases that they have a direct financial interest in only makes things worse.” One of the primary mechanisms for alerting the courts about potential… Read More

131 federal judges oversaw cases involving companies in which they or their families owned stock

More than 130 federal judges broke the law and violated ethics by hearing cases involving companies they had a financial interest in over 11 years

A Wall Street Journal investigation has found that 131 federal judges oversaw 685 court cases in the last decade involving companies in which they or their families owned stock. The conflict is a violation of U.S. law and judicial ethics, the newspaper reported. “Nothing bars judges from owning stocks,” the newspaper reported, “but federal law since 1974 has prohibited judges from hearing cases that involve a party in which they, their spouses or their minor children have a ‘legal or equitable interest, however small.’ That law and the Judicial Conference of the U.S., which is the federal courts’ policymaking body, require judges to avoid even the appearance of a conflict.” About two-thirds of the identified judges ruled in favor of their financial interests when deciding contested motions, the newspaper said. The judges were appointed by Democratic and Republican presidents. “Judges offered a variety of explanations for the violations,” the newspaper reported. “Some blamed court clerks. Some said their recusal lists had misspellings that foiled the conflict-screening software. Some pointed to trades that resulted in losses. Others said they had only nominal roles, such as confirming settlements or transferring cases to… Read More

How the Journal Found 700 Judges’ Violations of Law on Conflicts

How the Journal Found 700 Judges Violations of Law on Conflicts

To discover recusal violations, The Wall Street Journal reviewed the financial holdings of roughly 700 federal district and appellate judges and compared them against tens of thousands of court cases. The Journal used data provided by the Free Law Project, a nonpartisan legal-research nonprofit, which requested financial-disclosure forms for all federal judges from the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. The Free Law Project also gathered disclosures from additional sources to create a searchable database, believed to be the most complete archive of judicial stockholdings. FULL STORY Read More

Over 100 Federal Judges Heard Cases Despite Conflicts Of Interest

Nearly 700 federal court cases from 2010 to 2018 were heard by 131 judges who had financial ties to a company that was part of the case, the Wall Street Journal reported, and in two-thirds of those cases they ruled in favor of the company. KEY FACTS Some 131 federal judges heard 685 cases in which they or family members held stock in a company involved in the case, the Journal reported Tuesday. After being contacted by the Journal, 56 of the 131 judges had their staff begin to tell people in 329 lawsuits that the judge should have recused themselves. In 21 cases, a judge or family held more than $50,000 in stock of a company involved in the litigation, while in 173 cases the holdings were higher than $15,000. Rodney Gilstrap, the chief federal judge for the Eastern District of Texas, led his peers with 138 cases in which he had a conflict of interest. New judges could be assigned to those cases—potentially changing the ruling—and some people who lost cases have already asked for that, the Journal reported. Key Quote “If you are a federal judge, you… Read More

131 Federal Judges Broke the Law by Hearing Cases Where They Had a Financial Interest

More than 130 federal judges broke the law and violated ethics by hearing cases involving companies they had a financial interest in over 11 years

More than 130 federal judges broke the law and violated ethics by hearing cases involving companies they had a financial interest in over 11 years An investigation found that more than 130 judges violated US law by overseeing cases involving companies in which they or their family held direct stock The report found that these judges have improperly failed to recuse themselves from 685 US court cases since 2010 The jurists were appointed by presidents whose terms have spanned seven decades, from Lyndon B. Johnson to Donald J. Trump Roughly two-thirds of the 131 jurists’ rulings ended up being in favor of their or their family’s financial interests Of the two-thirds of judges who disclosed stock holdings, about a fifth of them presided over at least one case that involved their stock, the report showed An investigation found that 131 federal judges violated US law by overseeing cases involving companies in which they or their family held direct stock, The Wall Street Journal reported. The judges failed to recuse themselves from 685 cases across the nation in which they held financial interest since 2010, the investigation revealed. What’s more, when… Read More

Disney Grandson Files Request for Temporary Restraining Order to Stop His “Hostile” Trustees From Selling His Wyoming Family Ranch

Bradford and Sherry Disney Lund Walt Disney's grandson negotiate sale of ranch

The Trustees will receive hundreds of thousands in self-enrichment from the sale, according to Lanny J. Davis, attorney for Lund
“One has to ask why the Trustees are so intent on ignoring the wishes of their own beneficiary, to whom they owe a fiduciary duty,” said Lanny J. Davis

Lanny Davis
Jan 11, 2022, 11:12 ET

LOS ANGELES, Jan. 11, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — Walt Disney’s grandson, Bradford D. Lund, has filed a request for a temporary restraining order in the Los Angeles County Superior Court in an attempt to block his four trustees – L. Andrew Gifford, Robert L. Wilson, Douglas M. Strode, and the First Republic Trust Company (“FRTC”) (collectively, “the Trustees”) – from selling a pristine and sentimental 110-acre Wyoming family ranch, set on the outskirts of Teton National Park (owned by his trust, together with his sister’s trust) to an undisclosed third party. The Trustees even refused to tell Mr. Lund who the buyers are. He alleges that he has filed this emergency request in order to prevent this family treasure from being lost forever, most probably to commercial development.

According to the filing, Mr. Lund has been attempting to stop the sale since September 2020 when the Trustees for the first time indicated that they entered into a sales contract with an unidentified third-party. Mr. Lund’s attempt to stop the sale in the Wyoming state court system was unsuccessful based upon a legal doctrine, forum non conveniens, where the Wyoming court determined that the issue should be decided in the Los Angeles courts with the rest of Mr. Lund’s probate case. The Wyoming decision was not based on the merits of Mr. Lund’s complaint.

According to Mr. Lund, the Trustees had originally agreed in April of 2019 to allow him to purchase his sister Michelle’s ownership in the ranch for an agreed amount. The purchase was to be made with Mr. Lund’s trust assets. The Trustees allegedly violated their agreement with Mr. Lund and went forward to sell the ranch to a third party. Mr. Lund believes that the Trustees are only concerned about personally benefiting financially and not concerned about the wishes of Mr. Lund or their agreement with him.

Mr. Lund’s filing alleges “the only benefit from the sale of [the ranch] is to the Trustees:

“The only benefit from the sale of [the ranch] is to the Trustees. The Trustees, as custom and practice has dictated in [Brad and Michelle’s trusts], are entitled to receive a 2% Real Estate fee regarding the sale of any real estate owned by the trusts. Therefore, a sale of [the ranch] for $35 million will allow the Trustees to receive $700,000 (or approximately $175,000 each) from this sale.”

The Ranch has been in Mr. Lund’s family for forty years, and his filing asserts that it was always meant to be kept in the family for their use and enjoyment. Mr. Lund believes that the law supports his claims that the Trustees should not be taking any Real Estate Fee for the sale of the ranch and that by doing this they have created a conflict of interest and they are violating their fiduciary duty to him.

“One has to ask why the Trustees are so intent on ignoring the wishes of their own beneficiary, to whom they owe a fiduciary duty,” said Lanny J. Davis, an attorney advisor for Mr. Lund. “My client has established that he and his sister’s trusts are funded more than enough to last their lifetimes, and the loss of this precious childhood property would be incalculable.”

Contact: Alex Lange
(202) 480-4309

SOURCE Lanny Davis

Walt Disney’s Grandson Fights To Save Family Wyoming Ranch
Walt Disney’s Grandson, Bradford Lund, fights to keep the family Wyoming ranch
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Grandson files appeal to return Disney ranch dispute in Wyoming
Trustees of Walt Disney’s grandson negotiate sale of ranch
Trustees of Walt Disney’s Grandson Negotiate Sale of Ranch
Wyoming Supreme Court To Hear Arguments In Disney Ranch Sale

The Retirement Nightmare: How to Save Yourself from Your Heirs and Protectors : Involuntary Conservatorships and Guardianships by Diane Armstrong

The above warning, sent to all allegedly incapacitated seniors in the state of Virginia, summarizes the nightmare that can befall senior citizens anywhere in the United States as a result of involuntary conservatorship or guardianship proceedings. Statutes originally designed to help elderly friends and relatives who are unable to look after their own personal or financial needs are now being increasingly abused by calculating heirs to direct the transfer of family assets to themselves-with the courts’ blessings. Based on fifty-five cases drawn from courtrooms across America and the author’s own bitter experience, The Retirement Nightmare describes what can happen to competent senior citizens when such proceedings are filed against them by relatives or other so-called protectors in the social welfare community.Dr. Armstrong, who was forced to battle her own siblings in a million-dollar court battle to place her competent mother in an involuntary conservatorship, reveals how these arcane conservatorship and guardianship codes function in our courts today; unfortunately, as the author learned firsthand, the actual application of these codes is determined almost solely by the competence and attitudes of individual judges and investigators. She highlights the key problem areas common… Read More

The Trusted One: An Insider’s View into the Secret World of Guardianship by Annie B. Wagner

Are you or a loved one headed for a health crisis, a loneliness crisis, or a crisis of neglect, abuse, or exploitation? In The Trusted One, author Annie B. Wagner shares her stories of her work as a professional advocate and guardian for the elderly and offers advice and guidance for those walking on that journey. Wagner tells of her positive experiences, successful guardianships, enhancing lives, and avoiding crisis. She also witnesses guardianships that did not serve the interests of people who may be incapable of handling their own affairs. She discusses the tragedies of unnecessary control over elders by the ethically remiss in society as well as the undue control of vulnerable adults by those who are charged with protecting them from neglect, abuse, and exploitation. All my clients have had to overcome a crisis. They needed an advocate. They tell their stories to help others. My clients and I also speak out for the many trustworthy guardians everywhere, who “hold space” for their clients every day and are not always well supported in this American system. We hope to help in avoiding crisis altogether, but if not, we… Read More