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U.S. Chief Justice says judges need ‘rigorous’ training on stock-trading rules -Breaking

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO. U.S. Supreme Court Chief Judge John Roberts arrived to listen to President Joe Biden’s inaugural address at a joint session of the U.S. Congress in the House Chamber of the U.S Capitol in Washington (U.S.A), April 28, 2021. REUTERS/Jonathan Erns

By Jan Wolfe

(Reuters) – U.S. federal judge need to be “more rigorously” trained in ethics in order not hear disputes where they have a financial stake, U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts declared in a Friday year-end report, citing a Wall Street Journal investigation.

According to the newspaper, 131 federal judge violated disqualification rules. They also broke the judicial ethic code when they presided over cases that involved companies where their family owned stock.

Roberts stated in his annual report about the federal judiciary that most judges follow rules and that the Wall Street Journal identified a few “isolated and unintentional” violations. These were due to conflict-checking procedures not revealing financial conflicts.

Roberts reported that there was a bigger problem with inadequate ethics training for judges who committed multiple offenses or were ignorant of the rules.

Roberts stated that the policymaking committee of federal judiciary has begun to improve ethics training for judges in order to make sure they understand their obligations.

Roberts explained that ethics programs should be more thorough collectively. This means that there should be more consultations and webinars as well as class time. However, it requires more attention to the promotion of a culture that encourages compliance, even when there are busy dockets keeping judicial calendars full.

On Dec. 1, the House of Representatives voted 422-4 for a bipartisan bill that imposes more strict public financial reporting requirements on judges of federal appellate and district courts. A companion bill has yet to be considered by the Senate.

Inspired by an investigation by Wall Street Journal, the Courthouse Ethics and Transparency Act will allow for a 45 day window in which judges can report stock trades worth more than $1,000 and require that disclosure forms be posted online.

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