Conflicts of Interest in Science
Judicial Conflict of Interest
22 September 2000
-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Judicial conflict of interest (guru)..
Date: Wed, 13 Sep 2000 23:08:24 -0500
From: Roy Beavers
I happened to be reading the following Bloomberg Business news item because I own some Texaco stock.........
The case reported by the citation below is not an EMF case -- but it sounds like one!!! It might as well be. It is typical......
For example, the "boondagle" educational trip for the judges described below (paid for by industry and including some propaganda "presentations" by the industry CEOs) ... was set up very much like the U.S. Air Force/industry sponsored ICNIRP "boondagle" I have previously reported to EMF-L that took place in Munich as a part of the BEMS meeting in June of this year.....!!!!
Do you remember me telling you about that....??? Well, when you read the story below, just imagine that it is the same Munich ICNIRP event that I told you about which was staged in advance of the BEMS Annual Meeting to "sell" the EMF scientists on the ICNIRP "party line"...... It fits that criterion....
And, of course, the Air Force/industry not only staged and paid for the ICNIRP event -- but also paid the travel costs, etc., for many of the ICNIRP attendees ... on very much the same basis you will read about below. (The Adair's, for example, who do you think paid their costs to attend that meeting.....????)
Note that in the story below neither the judge nor the company (Texaco) regard their behavior as "out of order." .....As "conflict of interest."
These COZY situations are so "normal" in our COZY science/industry and governmental relationships that "they" (the recipients of the largesse) are shocked that anyone would think their activities "out of order." Or, that they are guilty of conflict of interest bahavior.....
God help us....!! (Actually, I don't think we can rely on God in these situations....... We shall have to change the system ourselves.....)
Roy Beavers (EMFguru)
It is better to light a single candle than to curse the darkness.....
People are more important than profit$$
Top World News Wed, 13 Sep 2000, 12:07pm EDT
Texaco Judge's Expense-Paid Trip Creates Conflict,
By David Glovin
New York, Sept. 13 (Bloomberg) -- A U.S. appeals court is being urged to disqualify the judge presiding over suits that accuse Texaco Inc. of polluting the Amazon rain forest, because he attended an environmental conference at a Montana resort where former Texaco Chairman Alfred DeCrane was one of the speakers.
The judge's expenses for the 6-day conference were paid by the business-backed group hosting the event.
In court papers mailed Tuesday to the U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals, a lawyer for South American Indians suing Texaco argues that U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff breached conflict of interest rules by attending the conference as a guest of the Foundation for Research on Economics and the Environment, (FREE), the attorney said. Rakoff and 11 other judges were free to mingle with speakers including DeCrane, said the attorney, Cristobal Bonifaz, who is representing the plaintiffs.
Texaco, the second-largest U.S. oil company, has been a contributor to FREE, the group's chairman has acknowledged.
``The attendance of Judge Rakoff at this seminar occurred in the midst of his supervision and management of a major environmental case,'' Bonifaz said.
The Montana conference was held from Sept. 15-20, 1998, a year after Rakoff dismissed the suits against Texaco by Ecuadorean and Peruvian Indians. On Oct. 5, 1998, the 2nd Circuit vacated the ruling and returned the cases to Rakoff for more proceedings.
The request to disqualify Rakoff comes amid growing scrutiny of judges' attendance at expense-paid seminars sponsored by private groups critical of environmenta regulation.
In a report issued in July, the Community Rights Counsel, a public interest law firm that studied privately funded trips by U.S. judges from 1992 through 1998, found that nearly 100 members of the federal judiciary had accepted invitations to seminars at luxury resorts.
The conferences are typically underwritten by conservative groups, which in turn are funded by corporations and other business interests, the Community Rights Counsel said.
``This case is a perfect example of appearance problems when private interests are allowed to fund judicial education,'' CRC Executive Director Doug Kendall said.
Rakoff last week turned aside a request that he disqualify himself. Though he acknowledged in his opinion that FREE had paid his expenses for the conference -- as a not-for-profit, Rakoff noted, that was perfectly legal -- the judge said he was unaware that Texaco helped finance the group. The judge also said that he had not spoken to DeCrane about the case.
``Nothing in judicial ethics requires a judge to be a hermit, or to closet himself from ideas,'' Rakoff said in his ruling.
The suits, filed in 1993 and 1994 on behalf of thousands of South American Indians, blame Texaco for widespread pollution and resulting health problems in the Amazon rain forest. The Indians say Texaco failed to use cleanup measures employed by other oil companies in the 1960s and 1970s.
Rakoff is now weighing a request by White Plains, New York- based Texaco to dismiss the cases -- filed under a federal law permitting suits by non-citizens claiming violations of international law -- because the alleged wrongdoing occurred in South America. The plaintiffs say Ecuadorean courts are so corrupt they cannot gain a fair hearing there.
Texaco contributed a total of $125,000 to FREE, according to 1997, 1998, and 1999 tax documents from FREE submitted to the court by the plaintiffs. Other donors over that time included Procter & Gamble Co., Coca-Cola Co., and Exxon Corp., as well as several charitable foundations.
FREE's 1998 conference, held on a ranch near Big Sky, Montana, was entitled ``Real and Alleged Environmental Crisis -- Seminar for Federal Judges,'' according to court papers. DeCrane led a talk entitled, ``The Environment: Some Thoughts From The Corner Office.''
Judges ``and presumably the lecturers, including DeCrane,'' had afternoons free for horseback rides, fishing, and hiking, Bonifaz said in an affidavit. Bonifaz said DeCrane may be called as a witness if the Texaco suit goes to trial.
DeCrane was Texaco's chairman from 1987 to 1996 and chief executive from 1993 to 1996. Texaco spokesman Andrew Norman said the company had no comment on the plaintiffs' disqualification request.
FREE, based in Bozeman, Montana, questions whether additional government regulation is needed to protect the environment, the group's chairman, John Baden said.
Baden said Texaco did not underwrite the 1998 seminar. He called the plaintiffs' ethics claim ``silly'' and said he couldn't imagine Rakoff or DeCrane violating ethics rules.
``I don't think they spent time consorting,'' he said.
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