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Federal judges slow to report travel expenses as required: court watchdog

[JURIST] The Community Rights Counsel (CRC) [advocacy website] said Wednesday that the new Judicial Conference Policy on Judges' Attendance at Privately Funded Educational Programs [PDF text; backgrounder] has not yet produced any public disclosures of travel expenses on judicial websites. According to the Judicial Conference:

The Judicial Conference adopted a private seminars disclosure reporting policy that requires educational program providers and judges to disclose certain information relevant to judges' attendance at privately-funded educational programs.

The disclosure policy takes effect on January 1, 2007. This means that any organization covered by the policy that issues an invitation on or after January 1, 2007 (for a program commencing after that date), to a federal judge to attend an educational program as a speaker, panelist, or attendee and offers to pay for or reimburse that judge, in excess of $305, must disclose financial and programmatic information.
The policy requires disclosure within 30 days, but CRC, a judicial ethics watchdog group, conducted a review [press release] and found that "80 days after the January 1, 2007 effective date of the new policy, not a single junket has been reported." The CRC criticized the Administrative Office for the US Courts for "applying the policy in a way that seems designed to delay the reporting of information as long as possible" by determining that the policy only applies to invitations issued on or after January 1, 2007.

The Judicial Conference of the United States [backgrounder] is the policy-making body of the federal court system and is led by Chief Justice John Roberts. A court spokesperson said Wednesday that effective implementation of the new system could take some time. AP has more.

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