15 July 2014

Systemic Temporary Judge Conflict of Interest Disclosure Law Violations Confirmed by Supreme Court Committee

FBI Sacramento Division Special Agent in Charge Monica Miller Federal Bureau of Investigation
The Supreme Court Committee on Judicial Ethics Opinions has issued an important "Formal Opinion" confirming that conflict of interest disclosures by judges be made in writing when no court reporter is present.

Presiding Judge Robert Hight Responsible for Legal Error Tainting Hundreds of Cases

An attorney and Sacramento Family Court News reader provided the California Supreme Court Committee on Judicial Ethics Opinions Formal Opinion embedded at the end of this article. The opinion provides an additional legal reference confirming that family court judges must disclose potential conflicts of interest on the record. 

At court hearings where no court reporter is present, the disclosure must be in writing, according to the CJEO. A SFCN investigation last year revealed that family court judges were not in compliance with conflict of interest disclosure laws. Judges continue to ignore conflict laws, according to recent case audits conducted by SFCN.

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In our original May, 2013 investigative report, we provided the legal authority, including Judicial Ethics Updates and Ethics Opinions from the California Judges Association requiring judges to disclose to opposing parties and attorneys when a judge pro tem attorney represents a client in court. As we reported at that time, in violation of state law family court judges were failing to make the required disclosure. 

The violations remain ongoing, and hundreds of cases are tainted by the error. Sacramento County Superior Court Presiding Judge Robert Hight is responsible for the oversight of temporary judges, according to the CJA, the Code of Judicial Ethics and other authority. Click here to view our 2013 report.

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