Rotunda on IG for the Courts: "Sunlight is the Best Disinfectant"
The Judicial Transparency and Ethics Enhancement Act of 2006 now before Congress would strengthen judicial independence and protect judges from false charges says Professor Ronald Rotunda, a frequently cited authority on legal ethics. The bill calls for the creation of an inspector general for the courts, an action that Rotunda believes is "a modest reform that would not dislodge the heavens."
The Courts Need This Watchdog, The Washington Post, December 21, 2006. By Ronald D. Rotunda.
"Justice Stephen Breyer's commission on judicial discipline recently reported that the judiciary failed to conduct a proper investigation of judicial misconduct in five of 17 'high visibility cases' between 2001 and 2005. This error rate, the report admitted, is 'far too high.'
"We can do better.
"Right now the discipline process is conducted largely in secret. The proposed bill would give us sunlight, the best disinfectant. As for the independence of the judiciary, the proposed bill provides that the chief justice would appoint, and could remove, the inspector general. Federal judges already have lifetime tenure and salary protection. Giving them an inspector general whom the chief justice appoints and removes would not interfere with their independence."