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A Brief Primer on Discipline and Prosecution Judges and Public Officials in the United States. Judge Tom C. Rawlings Juvenile Courts, Middle Judicial Circuit State of Georgia tom@sandersville.net www.tomrawlings.com. United Nations Convention Against Corruption.

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a brief primer on discipline and prosecution judges and public officials in the united states

A Brief Primer on Discipline and Prosecution Judges and Public Officials in the United States

Judge Tom C. Rawlings

Juvenile Courts, Middle Judicial Circuit

State of Georgia



united nations convention against corruption
United Nations Convention Against Corruption
  • United States recently became a full participating member
  • Provisions Include:
    • Judicial Discipline and Transparency
    • Limitations on Public Officials’ Entrance into the Private Sector as Lobbyists
uncac provisions on judicial discipline
UNCAC Provisions on Judicial Discipline
  • “Bearing in mind the independence of the judiciary and its crucial role incombating corruption, each State Party shall, in accordance with the fundamentalprinciples of its legal system and without prejudice to judicial independence, takemeasures to strengthen integrity and to prevent opportunities for corruption amongmembers of the judiciary. Such measures may include rules with respect to theconduct of members of the judiciary.”
judicial canons of ethics
Judicial Canons of Ethics
  • Ethical Codes of Conduct have been adopted by all states and the federal judiciary.
  • Designed to prevent “even the appearance” of impropriety.
  • The Judiciary Represents a Major Asset in the Nation’s “Social Capital.”
    • Without faith in the judiciary, faith in other institutions– government, industry, and civil society– will fail.
judicial canons of ethics1
Judicial Canons of Ethics
  • “Judges shall respect and comply with the law* and shall act at alltimes in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity andimpartiality of the judiciary”
  • “Judges who receive information indicating a substantial likelihoodthat another judge has committed a violation of this Code should takeappropriate action. Judges having knowledge* that another judge hascommitted a violation of this Code that raises a substantial question as tothe other judge’s fitness for office shall inform the appropriate authority.”
  • http://www.georgiacourts.org/agencies/jqc/
judicial canons of ethics2
Judicial Canons of Ethics
  • Federal Judicial Canons:
    • http://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/index.php/Judicial_ethics
    • (a general guide to judicial ethics)
discipline of judges
Discipline of Judges
  • Usually handled by the Judicial Branch itself
    • Screened by a committee that often consists of judges as well as lay persons appointed by the judiciary or, in some cases, by the Executive branch.
  • Information for filing a complaint is widely dispersed.
    • Forms can be easily found on the Internet
  • Individuals may file a complaint without fear of reprisal
  • A Judge may be removed from the bench, disciplined publicly, or disciplined privately.
  • Causes for Removal from the bench:
    • Add
discipline of judges1
Discipline of Judges
  • Advantages:
    • Maintains independence of judiciary
    • Ensures Those Asserting Punishment are Experts in the Field
    • Represents a “Social Compact” Among Judiciary, Promoting Self-Accountability Within the Profession
discipline of judges2
Discipline of Judges
  • Disadvantages:
    • Public May Believe Judges are “Protecting Their Own.”
    • Dismissed Complaints, or Cases involving Privately-Disciplined Judges, are Often Not Open to the Public
      • Recently, U.S. Federal Judiciary Faced Complaints of Failure to Pursue Conflicts of Interest
        • For Example, stock ownership in a company that is a party in Court.
      • Supreme Court Responded by Requiring that Clerks of Court Install Software to Check for Financial Conflicts of Interest
prosecution of judges
Prosecution of Judges
  • Louisiana Judge Convicted of Taking Bribes
  • Trial Opens for Judge Indicted in Illinois CHICAGO, May 29 (AP) - A jury was empaneled today in the trial of the first of four judges indicted in a three-and-half-year Federal investigation of the Cook County court system.
  • Judge indicted for accepting Kickapoo cashFRIDAY, OCTOBER 28, 2005
public corruption uncac provision
Public Corruption: UNCAC Provision
  • “Preventing conflicts of interest by imposing restrictions, as appropriateand for a reasonable period of time, on the professional activities of former publicofficials or on the employment of public officials by the private sector after theirresignation or retirement, where such activities or employment relate directly to thefunctions held or supervised by those public officials during their tenure”
public corruption
Public Corruption
  • Jack Abramoff Case

Abramoff Pleads Guilty to 3 Counts

Lobbyist to Testify About Lawmakers In Corruption Probe

By Susan Schmidt and James V. Grimaldi

Washington Post Staff WritersWednesday, January 4, 2006; Page A01

Jack Abramoff, the once-powerful lobbyist at the center of a wide-ranging public corruption investigation, pleaded guilty yesterday to fraud, tax evasion and conspiracy to bribe public officials in a deal that requires him to provide evidence about members of Congress.

The plea deal could have enormous legal and political consequences for the lawmakers on whom Abramoff lavished luxury trips, skybox fundraisers, campaign contributions, jobs for their spouses, and meals at Signatures, the lobbyist's upscale restaurant.

public corruption tools
Public Corruption: Tools
  • Wire Fraud: Elements
  • (1) that the defendant voluntarily and intentionally devised or participated in a scheme to defraud another out of money;
  • (2) that the defendant did so with the intent to defraud;
  • (3) that it was reasonably foreseeable that interstate wire communications would be used; and
  • (4) that interstate wire communications were in fact used
public corruption tools1
Public Corruption: Tools
  • Linda Schrenko case

Linda Schrenko Sentenced To Eight Years In Prison

(AP) - A federal judge sentenced former Georgia schools superintendent Linda Schrenko Wednesday to eight years in prison for her role in an embezzlement scheme that helped pay for her face lift and campaign for governor.U.S. District Judge Clarence Cooper also ordered Schrenko to repay nearly 415-thousand dollars and said her prison sentence will be followed by three years supervision.

public corruption tools2
Public Corruption: Tools
  • Tax Evasion
    • In the United States, persons subject to the Internal Revenue Code who earn income by illegal means (gambling, theft, drug trafficking etc.) are required to report unlawful gains as income when filing annual tax returns, but they often do not do so, because doing so could serve as an admission of guilt.
public corruption tools3
Public Corruption: Tools
  • Bill Campbell, Mayor of Atlanta

Former Mayor Bill Campbell was acquitted on Friday of lining his pockets with payoffs while guiding Atlanta through a period of explosive growth that helped secure its place during the 1990s as a world-class city. However, the jury did find him guilty of three counts of tax evasion.Campbell had no visible reaction as the verdict was read.The 52-year-old Campbell could get up to nine years in prison. However, legal experts have said its doubtful he would get the maximum sentence in this case. The judge didn't immediately set a sentencing date.The federal jury took a day and a half to find Campbell NOT guilty of racketeering and bribery after a seven-week trial that put his womanizing and his high-rolling, jet-setting ways on display with his wife sitting dutifully in the courtroom for most of the proceedings.

public corruption results
Public Corruption: Results

Public Corruption Prosecutions by the Federal Government:

NOTE: Figures are latest available.

Source: U.S. Department of Justice, Federal Prosecutions of Corrupt Public Officials, 1970–1980, and Report to Congress on the Activities and Operations of the Public Integrity Section, annual. From Statistical Abstract of the United States, 2006.

  • The United States has far to go in freeing itself from public corruption
  • These trials are often expensive; investigations last for years, trials for weeks or months
  • Wherever there is power, there will be corruption. The only thing to be done is to limit power and to check corruption with adequately-funded prosecutors and an independent judiciary