August 22, 2006

Does Judge Anna Diggs Taylor Have a Conflict of Interest?

Yesterday, Judicial Watch put out this press release on a potential conflict of interest in the ACLU v. NSA wiretapping case. Though she seems not to have crossed any bright-line rule, she does seem to need to be reminded of Canon 5 of the Code of Conduct for U.S. Judges which states, in part:

"B. Civic and Charitable Activities. A judge may participate in civic and charitable activities that do not reflect adversely upon the judge's impartiality or interfere with the performance of judicial duties. A judge may serve as an officer, director, trustee, or non-legal advisor of an educational, religious, charitable, fraternal, or civic organization not conducted for the economic or political advantage of its members, subject to the following limitations:
(1) A judge should not serve if it is likely that the organization will be engaged in proceedings that would ordinarily come before the judge or will be regularly engaged in adversary proceedings in any court.
(2) A judge should not solicit funds for any educational, religious, charitable, fraternal, or civic organization, or use or permit the use of the prestige of the judicial office for that purpose, but the judge may be listed as an officer, director, or trustee of such an organization. A judge should not personally participate in membership solicitation if the solicitation might reasonably be perceived as coercive or is essentially a fund-raising mechanism.
(3) A judge should not give investment advice to such an organization, but may serve on its board of directors or trustees even though it has the responsibility for approving investment decisions."

The press release would be less interesting if it wasn't for this controversy during the University of Michigan affirmative action cases. From Thomas Bray's June, 2002 WSJ op-ed:

"Earlier, Chief Judge Anna Diggs Taylor of the federal District Court in Detroit tried to take the suit against the law school away from Judge Bernard Freedman, who had been assigned it through a blind draw--and who was suspected of being skeptical about affirmative action--and consolidate it with a similar suit against the university's undergraduate admissions practice, which Judge Patrick Duggan was hearing. The chief judge dropped that effort was dropped after the judge hearing the law school complaint went public with a blistering opinion objecting to what he termed 'the highly irregular' effort of the chief judge. Judge Duggan ruled in favor of the undergraduate racial preferences, while Judge Freedman ruled against the law school preferences."