The Center for Public Integrity recently completed an audit of federal appeals courts, checking financial disclosures against panel assignments for missed conflicts. On the surface, the results were worrisome: twenty-six definite conflicts over three years throughout the system. These were cases where a judge had a financial interest in one of the parties, or one of the law firms that represented the parties, and should've recused.
Well, so far, from our review of the conflicts, it's been much ado about nothing, with nearly all of the conflicts coming in unanimous decisions, most of which were nonprecedential and unpublished. Don't expect much more from the Tenth Circuit, as there was only one conflict unearthed -- an understandable mistake from a stock broker that led to a conflict in another unanimous decision.