December 12, 2013

California Supreme Court receives highest marks among the supreme courts of the 50 states for judicial financial disclosure rules

As reported by Ben Shatz at Southern California Appellate News, and further discussed in this article by Howard Mintz, The Center for Public Integrity recently gave the California Supreme Court top marks among the 50 state supreme courts for the way it handles financial disclosure and conflict-of-interest rules for justices.  Remarkably, the high courts of 43 states received failing grades because their states do not require adequate financial disclosures and otherwise have failed to take the steps necessary to avoid financial conflicts.

California’s top grade of C (77 points out of 100) was due largely to the recent decision of the state’s Fair Political Practices Commission to increase transparency by requiring all the state’s judges to publish their financial information online.  So why didn’t the Golden State score higher?  The Center for Public Integrity explained:  “The state has extensive reporting requirements for gifts and reimbursements, but they only apply to judges’ spouses and children in certain circumstances. Because the language of the reporting instructions is open to interpretation and could result in reportable gifts going unreported, California lost points. Additionally, judges are only required to report the value of their income and investments in ranges, rather than specific figures.”

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