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Chief Justice Roberts Vows to Improve Judges' Ethics Training

—Chief Justice John Roberts pledged to improve ethics training for the federal judiciary, citing a Wall Street Journal investigation that found hundreds of instances where judges presided over cases involving companies in which they or their relatives held stock, the Journal reports. “Let me be crystal clear: the Judiciary takes this matter seriously. We expect judges to adhere to the highest standards, and those judges violated an ethics rule,” the chief justice said in a year end report. The federal judiciary has resisted proposals that would extend to judges the disclosure requirements that apply to lawmakers and executive-branch appointees. Roberts helped kill 2018 legislation that would have expanded ethics requirements and required audio and video transmission of some court proceedings. In his Friday report, the chief justice stressed that “institutional independence” of congressional oversight remained essential.

The Wall Street Journal reported last year that between 2010 and 2018, 131 federal judges participated in a total of 685 matters involving companies in which they or their families owned shares of stock. That was inconsistent with a federal ethics statute requiring that a judge recuse in any matter in which the judge knows of a personal financial interest, no matter how small.” The actual tally is significantly higher, with at least 950 such recusal violations. J

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