Risk Update

Judicial Conflicts Allegations — Unreasonable Disqualification Motion Earns Sanctions, Opioid Fight Continues, Judge’s Facebook ‘Likes’ Earn DQ Downvote

NY Judge Knocks Hedge Fund For Flimsy DQ Bid”

  • “A New York federal judge on Friday agreed to sanction hedge fund Weston Capital Advisors Inc. for an “objectively unreasonable” bid to get him to step away from overseeing a long-running fight over millions owed to an Indonesian bank. Calling the disqualification motion “another chapter” in the company’s history of defiance, U.S. District Judge Paul A. Crotty refused to recuse himself and granted a fee-and-costs sanction to Bank Mutiara.”
  • “Weston Capital has also tried to “walk back” its argument that the court was biased due to the judge’s connection to the firm’s former law firm — Judge Crotty’s brother Robert is a litigation partner at Kelley Drye & Warren LLP — thus further undercutting its argument it had suffered from related bias from the bench. “Kelley Drye ceased representing Weston in this action over four years ago and the court disclosed its relationship with Kelley Drye over five years ago. Weston raised no objections,” Judge Crotty said. ‘Accordingly, since no objective person would reasonably question the court’s impartiality under these circumstances … there is no basis for disqualification.'”

Opioid plaintiffs fight bid to disqualify U.S. judge before trial” —

  • “Lawyers for cities and counties suing drug companies over the opioid epidemic on Monday objected to a bid by pharmaceutical distributors and pharmacies to disqualify the federal judge overseeing the cases, saying it had no basis and came too late.”
  • “The companies had argued in Saturday’s motion that Polster, who has long pushed for a settlement that could ‘do something meaningful to abate this crisis,’ had made a series of public statements since 2018 that could cause a reasonable person to question his impartiality.”
  • “In Monday’s brief, lawyers for the plaintiffs said the defendants had waived their ability to seek Polster’s recusal, noting they were relying on statements he made more than a year ago to belatedly seek his disqualification. ‘If these Defendants really thought recusal was necessary, they were required to raise the issue sooner – much sooner,’ the plaintiffs’ lawyers wrote.”

Facebook ‘Like’ of Campaign Post Gets Judge Disqualified” —

  • “A Kentucky judge was disqualified from a case involving the state’s governor and his re-election challenger over his ‘like’ of a Facebook post seen as a political endorsement.J udge Phillip Shepherd was removed from a case between Republican Gov. Matt Bevin and his Democratic opponent, state Attorney General Andy Beshear, for ‘liking’ a post discussing Beshear’s campaign.”
  • “The Sept. 27 ruling from Kentucky Supreme Court Chief Justice John Minton Jr. found Shepherd should have disqualified himself because his impartiality ‘might reasonably be questioned.'”
  • “‘The body of law addressing judges’ use of social media is still developing nationally. But recent opinions emphasize that ‘[t]he code of judicial conduct’s restrictions on judges’ off-bench activities apply equally on social media as in other contexts,’ Minton said in his order.”
    “Shepherd had defended his impartiality by pointing out his bipartisan social-media habits: he also ‘liked’ posts supportive of Bevin’s campaign and other Democratic and Republican candidates. But Minton said two “likes” don’t make a right. “In fact,” he wrote, ‘those ‘likes’ constitute additional violations of Rule 4.1(A)(3),’ the rule against judges publicly endorsing a candidate for any public office.”