A new congressional bill is calling for greater transparency in how District of Columbia judges report their financial ties, a response to a 2013 Center for Public Integrity investigation that gave the city a failing grade.
“It’s out of sync with other states’ courts,” said the longstanding Democratic representative. “I don’t see why Congress should stand in the way.”
The legislation must go through Congress, rather than the D.C. Council, because of the peculiar relationship the city has as the nation’s capital.
And that quirk highlights the oddity of the existing situation: District of Columbia Court judges’ paychecks come from the federal government, but the judges currently aren’t held to the same standard as federal judges when it comes to publicly disclosing where they invest that money.
Annual disclosure reports typically show judges’ income, investments, debts and gifts. But in the case of the disclosures from the city’s Court of Appeals and Superior Court judges, only two of the disclosure form’s 10 sections — “Business and Charitable Affiliations” and “Honorarium” — are open for public inspection.
That makes it difficult for those coming before the courts to have confidence that judges’ personal financial interests are not affecting their cases.