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Lower-Court Judges' Junkets Raise Ethical Questions

Fix the Court has sent a letter to AO Director Mauskopf asking her to look into the prevalence and propriety of “judicial education seminars” that appear more ideological than Article III conferences should be under the ethics code and, in many cases, seem to more closely resemble luxury vacations than opportunities to catch up on trends and innovations in the field. (Judges’ flights, hotels and food are typically free.)

Our list includes 18 events attended over the last three years by 31 judges, comprising a total of 76 trips, which is most assuredly an undercount, as we’re still working to identify whether other seminars in Florida, Hawaii, Utah, Spain and the U.K. were hosted at “resorts,” per se.

Our recommendations include a full-scale review of these seminars to ensure they’re complying with the “avoid the appearance of impropriety in all activities” section of the ethics code, as well as a requirement that judges file post-trip reports listing costs and agendas like members of Congress must do.

We’ve yet to receive a response from the judiciary but will update this post when we do.

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