Dec 4, 2013
09:20 AMThe Connecticut Story
Connecticut Gets 'F' for Lax Disclosure Rules for Supreme Court Judges
Connecticut has received an “F” for its lax disclosure requirements for judges on the state’s Supreme Court.
The Center for Public Integrity, a nonprofit investigative journalism organization, has evaluated disclosure rules for judges across the country.
Connecticut, one of 43 states to receive a failing grade, came in 43rd place out of 50.
“Disclosure requirements are embarrassingly weak,” the Center for Public Integrity said in presenting the project.
Weak disclosure requirements make it difficult for the public to identify potential conflicts of interest, the CPI says.
Judges in Connecticut are required to report the source and exact amount of any compensation they receive in addition to their judicial salaries, according to the CPI. They must also disclose travel reimbursements they receive from event sponsors for attending conferences or holding speeches.
State Supreme Court Chief Justice Chase T. Rogers, for example, received $4,458 during 2012 for various speaking engagements and conferences; Justice Peter T. Zarella owned securities in 35 different companies in 2012 and Justice Carmen E. Espinosa co-owns property in New York State.
While this information must be disclosed, the state does not, however, require spouses or dependent children of judges to disclose non-investment income, which means the public might not know of potential conflicts unless a judge recuses himself or herself from a case.
“In 2007, Justice Chase Rogers recused herself from hearing a same-sex marriage case because her husband’s law firm had previously filed a friend-of-the-court brief on behalf of a legal organization in support of gay marriage in the case,” the CPI reported. “Rogers acted ethically by sitting out the case, but the public never would have been able to identify the judge’s conflict on its own.”
Failing to require disclosure for family members also cost the state points in the investments category, in which judges must name each security they owned or sold during the reporting year, according to the CPI.