Gavel Grab

Targeted Judge Challenges Authority of Ethics Body

In an unusual Massachusetts case, a state judge is challenging the authority of the Commission on Judicial Conduct to ask questions about his reasoning in dozens of cases.

Judge Raymond B. Dougan (photo) is accused of bias in favor of defendants, according to a Boston Globe article. The judge, supported by a number of retired state and federal judges, asserts that judges should not be required to disclose their inner thoughts about cases. He has asked the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts to quash an investigatory subpoena, the ABA Journal reported.

To let a prosecutor effectively penalize a judge whose rulings he disagrees with amounts to a threat to judicial independence, said the judges supporting Judge Dougan.

But J. William Codinha, the special counsel who has led an investigation of Judge Dougan, maintained that if the judge succeeds,  “no sitting judge need ever remain truly impartial, for he may not be asked under oath if he is, and any improper bias or influence can remain safely concealed.’’


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