Yesterday, the Free Law Project announced the release of a new, first-of-its-kind database of federal judicial financial records:
The Ethics in Government Act was passed in 1978 in the aftermath of the Watergate Scandal and mandated the filing of these disclosures. From then until now, there has never been a database like the one we are announcing today.
Our financial disclosure database is a collection of over 250,000 pages of financial records drawn from over 26,000 tiff and PDF files. We requested these files from the federal judiciary beginning in 2017 and have been gathering them since that time. These files contain the disclosure records for every federal judge, justice, and magistrate from 2011 to 2018. We expect to receive and process the majority of the 2019 disclosures in the coming weeks.
We are very excited to announce that this database will soon be publicly available on https://www.courtlistener.com and we will be providing free API access to all the records and files held within.
Several months ago, a preview of the database was provided to journalists from The Wall Street Journal who, yesterday, published the first in a series of articles about conflicts of interest in the Judiciary. They found that more than 130 federal judges improperly failed to disqualify themselves from 685 court cases around the nation since 2010.
About two-thirds of federal district judges disclosed holdings of individual stocks, and nearly one of every five who did heard at least one case involving those stocks.
Alerted to the violations by the Journal, 56 of the judges have directed court clerks to notify parties in 329 lawsuits that they should have recused themselves. That means new judges might be assigned, potentially upending rulings.
Hat tip to beSpacific