Thursday, July 19. 2001
State High Court Adopts New Conflicts Screening Process
By a MetNews Staff Writer
The California Supreme Court yesterday beefed up its procedures to warn of possible conflicts between the justices’ personal interests and cases the court is hearing.
In response to a news article earlier this year on justices holding stock in companies with cases before them, the court revamped its Internal Operating Practices and Procedures to require parties with matters before the court to file a list of persons or entities with an interest in their litigation. The high court also detailed other internal steps, including adjusting the court’s computer system to assure that potential conflicts are flagged.
Other steps include:
•justices working more closely with personal staff to identify conflicts based on the justices’ financial holdings;
•directing the court’s central staffs to include more information detailing parties and other case participants in the conference memoranda;
•clerk’s office checking for potential conflicts electronically and manually, and consulting with the justices’ staffs concerning recusal in individual matters;
•maintaining a master list of identified conflicts based on the justices’ Statements of Economic Interests; and
•including in court orders following conference whether a justice did not participate, and if so, if the reason was recusal.
A justice who expects to be unable to participate in a Wednesday petition conference will continue to be able to leave votes in his or her absence, if the reason is not recusal.
The action came on the recommendation of an internal committee, which studied the court’s existing procedures for handling conflicts.
Copyright 2001, Metropolitan News Company