Tuesday, August 22, 2006

NSA Judge May Have Conflict of Interest

Crossposted from Stop The ACLU:

Wow! This case just took an interesting twist! Conservative Watchdog group, Judicial Watch, is accusing US District Judge Anna Diggs Taylor, who sided with the ACLU in their case against the government over NSA wiretaps, of failing to recuse herself in spite of a conflict of interest.

Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption and judicial abuse, announced today that Judge Anna Diggs Taylor, who last week ruled the government’s warrantless wiretapping program unconstitutional, serves as a Secretary and Trustee for a foundation that donated funds to the ACLU of Michigan, a plaintiff in the case (ACLU et. al v. National Security Agency). Judicial Watch discovered the potential conflict of interest after reviewing Judge Diggs Taylor’s financial disclosure statements.

According to her 2003 and 2004 financial disclosure statements, Judge Diggs Taylor served as Secretary and Trustee for the Community Foundation for Southeastern Michigan (CFSEM). She was reelected to this position in June 2005. The official CFSEM website states that the foundation made a “recent grant” of $45,000 over two years to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Michigan, a plaintiff in the wiretapping case. Judge Diggs Taylor sided with the ACLU of Michigan in her recent decision.

According to the CFSEM website, “The Foundation’s trustees make all funding decisions at meetings held on a quarterly basis.”

“This potential conflict of interest merits serious investigation,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “If Judge Diggs Taylor failed to disclose this link to a plaintiff in a case before her court, it would certainly call into question her judgment.”

This looks like a clear cut case of "conflict of interest" to me. This judge being a part of donating to a one of the plaintiffs in the very case she presided over casts significant doubt on her impartial judgement. This is definitely something that needs to be investigated.

Judicial Watch has made Judge Taylor's financial disclosure documents available here.