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JUDGE REMOVED FROM FEDERAL ASBESTOS CASES PHILADELPHIA — Despite finding that the federal judge overseeing five massive asbestos bankruptcy cases has not “done anything wrong or unethical or biased,” a divided panel of the Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals has ruled that he must be taken off three of the cases due to a “perception of bias” stemming from his consultation with court-appointed advisers who suffered from conflicts of interest. But a dissenting judge said that he believed the advisers had no real conflicts of interest and that the lawyers seeking the disqualification of Senior U.S. District Judge Alfred Wolin had “employed a guerrilla tactic timed to serve their own economic interests in this case, rather than the interests of justice and judicial integrity.” The 54-page opinion in In re Kensington International Limited and Springfield Associates is complicated by the fact that one of the five asbestos companies opted not to participate and another filed court papers too late to be included in Monday’s ruling. As a result, the court ruled only on motions filed by creditors for two of the debtors — Owens Corning and W.R. Grace & Co. — and by USG Corp. as debtor, and concluded that Wolin must step aside in those cases. But, writing for the majority, Senior Third Circuit Judge Leonard Garth emphasized that there wasn’t even the “slightest hint of any actual bias” on Wolin’s part. — The Legal Intelligencer

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