U.S. Judiciary: Chief Justice John Roberts Issues 2011 Year-End Report

John Roberts, Chief Justice of the United States, issued a 2011 year-end report on the judiciary.

Overall, the Chief Justice explained that the Judicial Conference’s Code of Conduct for United States Judges is an general reference tool for addressing ethics questions. However, the Chief Justice noted that other reference sources are available for judges with ethics questions-judicial opinions, treatises, scholarly articles, and disciplinary decisions. Moreover, the Chief Justice explained that judges can consult the Supreme Court’s Legal Office, the Judicial Conference’s Committee on Codes of Conduct, and other judges.

Additionally, the Chief Justice states that the Supreme Court has not addressed the issue of whether the Congress could require the judiciary to comply with financial disclosure and gift regulations and with recusal rules. I think that it is institutionally easier for the judiciary to continue to follow those rules. If the Supreme Court were to rule that there is a separation of powers issue, the citizenry of the United States would reasonably expect the judicial branch to provide the same level of information regarding financial disclosure and gift rules as well as rules on recusal that is provided presently.

Judges work ultimately for the taxpayer-citizen of the United States. Given the power of the judges to make rules without being elected and with lifetime tenure, the taxpayer-citizen has to be assured that all judges are faithfully executing the judge’s oath in all of their professional responsibilities. Transparency in finances and gifts as well as proper recusal is just one step to preventing improper use of judicial authority.

[Note 1: Judicial pay is the same as for 2010. See Executive Order 13594, schedule 6 (http://www.opm.gov/oca/compmemo/2011/2012PAY_Attach1.pdf).]

In the appendix to the report, the Chief Justice provides and explanation of the workload of the judiciary. I will focus on the Supreme Court’s workload.

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

2010

Filings

8521

8857

8241

7738

8159

7857

In forma pauperis

6846

7132

6627

6142

6576

6299

Paid docket

1671

1723

1614

1596

1583

1558

Cases:

argued

87

78

75

87

82

86

disposed

82

74

72

83

77

83

signed opinions

69

67

67

74

73

75

Advertisements