In 2012, four federal appeals judges enjoyed free legal services from law firms—including Judge Jay Bybee of the Ninth Circuit, for the sixth year in a row, according to a National Law Journal review of 257 financial disclosures judges filed last year. Another 14 judges had financial agreements with firms they worked for before taking the bench.

See related article, ” Law Firm Ties That Bind.” To explore all financial reports federal appeals judges filed last year, check out our searchable database.

From 2007 to 2012, Bybee reported free legal services from Davis Polk and Latham & Watkins valued at more than $3.3 million, according to the judge’s financial disclosures. Latham counseled Bybee regarding allegations that he violated attorney ethics rules when working on U.S. Department of Justice memos authorizing abusive interrogation techniques. Davis Polk helped establish a legal defense fund for the judge.

FREE LEGAL SERVICES PROVIDED TO NINTH CIRCUIT JUDGE JAY BYBEE
Year Latham & Watkins Davis Polk & Wardwell Total Read the Reports
2007 $6,235 $0 $6,235
2008 $60,074 $0 $60,074
2009 $2,507,274 $71,129 $2,578,403
2010 $678,310 $5,350 $683,660
2011 $2,983 $0 $2,983
2012 $0 $2,299 $2,299
Total $3,254,876 $78,778 $3,333,654

Source: Reports from 2007 to 2011 obtained from Judicial Watch.

Besides Bybee, three other judges reported free representation as gifts: D.C. Circuit Senior Judge Laurence Silberman, and Judge Richard Paez and Senior Judge A. Wallace Tashima of the Ninth Circuit. They were plaintiffs in a lawsuit challenging Congress’ refusal to pay cost-of-living raises for judges. Each disclosed $67,082 in legal services in 2012 from Kirkland & Ellis.

FREE LEGAL SERVICES PROVIDED TO JUDGES IN 2012
Judge Law Firm Value of Gift Read the Reports
Senior Judge Laurence Silberman, D.C. Circuit Kirkland & Ellis $67,082
Judge Jay Bybee, Ninth Circuit Davis Polk & Wardwell $2,299
Judge Richard Paez, Ninth Circuit Kirkland & Ellis $67,082
Senior Judge A. Wallace Tashima, Ninth Circuit Kirkland & Ellis $67,082

Six judges reported income from a law firm, either as part of ongoing arrangements after judges took the bench or as income just before their appointments. Judges are allowed to receive payments based on their law firm partnership interest, according to the ethics guidelines. They can’t share in profits the firm earned after they left, however.

JUDGES WHO REPORTED INCOME FROM LAW FIRMS IN 2012
Judge Law Firm Amount Read the Reports
Judge Richard Taranto, Federal Circuit Farr & Taranto $589,268 in partnership income
Judge William Kayatta Jr., First Circuit Pierce Atwood $780,000 in estimated partnership income
Senior Judge Robert Sack, Second Circuit Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher $72,000 from retirement plan
Judge Stephanie Thacker, Fourth Circuit Guthrie & Thomas $46,283 in partnership income
Judge Raymond Kethledge, Sixth Circuit Bush Seyferth & Paige $100,000 in buyout agreement payments
Judge Paul Watford, Ninth Circuit Munger, Tolles & Olson $328,000 (no description provided)

Eight judges reported agreements with a law firm that did not yield non-investment income. Judicial ethics experts say the judiciary’s ethics guidelines lean in favor of disqualification if a judge has any financial arrangements with a firm, even if the terms were predefined and the judge wasn’t receiving money at the time.

JUDGES WHO REPORTED AGREEMENTS WITH LAW FIRMS IN 2012
Judge Law Firm Description Read the Reports
Senior Judge Michael Boudin, First Circuit Covington & Burling Vested pension plan account
Senior Judge Amalya Kearse, Second Circuit Hughes Hubbard & Reed Return of July 1979 capital
Judge Jane Stranch, Sixth Circuit Branstetter, Stranch & Jennings Profit-sharing plan, no control; payment of value of interest in fees to be collected at the end of litigation for work done before leaving the firm
Chief Judge William Riley, Eighth Circuit Fitzgerald, Schorr, Barmettler & Brennan Profit sharing and 401(k) retirement plan, no control
Judge Morgan Christen, Ninth Circuit Preston Gates & Ellis (now K&L Gates) Retirement savings, no control
Judge Richard Clifton, Ninth Circuit Cades Schutte Fleming & Wright (now Cades Schutte) Partnership resolutions (including retirement terms, no control)
Judge Sandra Ikuta, Ninth Circuit O’Melveny & Myers Defined benefit plan, no control
Judge Timothy Tymkovich, Tenth Circuit Hale Hackstaff Tymkovich (now Hackstaff Law Group) 401(k) plan; withdrawal agreement