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The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has joined the 7th Circuit in posting judicial misconduct orders online, according to a court announcement on Jan. 2. Circuits have been under increased pressure, from Congress and under terms of proposed rules to reform the discipline process, to provide increased public access to final discipline orders. The 7th Circuit is the first and, thus far, only circuit to routinely post discipline orders, a practice that began early in 2007 and includes 60 discipline orders dating back to November 2006. In addition, the 2d Circuit has posted three orders in the past related to cases that generated publicity; the last decision was posted in July 2006. More recently the 5th Circuit posted two discipline orders on Dec. 20, naming U.S. District judges Samuel B. Kent and Thomas Porteous Jr., whose cases garnered wide public attention. Kent was accused of sexual harassment by a member of the court staff and was publicly reprimanded and placed on a four-month leave from the bench, which ended on Jan. 2. Porteous was accused of making false statements in his wife’s bankruptcy cases and filing misleading financial disclosure reports. The 5th circuit indicated the case was referred to the Judicial Conference of the United States to determine if the complaints constitute grounds for impeachment. Not so obvious The 9th Circuit’s orders may not be as obvious to casual observers because the orders do not appear on the main Web link used by all the courts, but on the circuit’s own independent Web site, at www.ce9.uscourts.gov. Although the 9th Circuit, the nation’s largest appellate court, announced it would begin posting public discipline decisions online beginning this month, it had already posted its first order by a 10-member judicial council. The district judge involved is not identified by name. However, the council agreed with former 9th Circuit Chief Judge Mary Schroeder’s decision last month to dismiss the complaint, which alleged anti-Semitic bias on the part of the trial judge for references to “shysterism.” The order notes that “shyster” commonly refers to a lawyer who uses unscrupulous tactics, and may be confused, incorrectly, with “Shylock.” The order, In re Complaint of Judicial Misconduct, No . 07-89001, states, “Similarity in sound is not similarity of meaning or origin.” The council added that a limited inquiry did not reveal “any evidence of anti-Semitic behavior or speech on the part of the judge.”

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