Vermont judges primed for corruption?

By Yaël Ossowski | Watchdog.org

In the case of how likely it is for judges to succumb to corruption, Vermont gets a big, fat “F.”

That’s the finding from the independent investigative journalism group Center for Public Integrity, a nonprofit based in Washington, D.C., which compared judicial financial disclosures nationwide.  corrupt-judge

In the survey scoring the reporting requirements put on judges who may have financial conflicts, the Green Mountain State ranks one of the worst in the country.

“Vermont scored poorly across the board, so it’s hard to find many bright spots in the state’s financial disclosure requirements,” reports the Center for Public Integrity. “Vermont’s tiny population — just over 626,000 people — makes ethically compromising personal ties more likely for the state’s five Supreme Court justices than in bigger states.”

In 2011, Vermont judges were reimbursed more than $80,000 in travel expenses alone, making them close to the highest paid public officials in the state, according to the Burlington Free Press.

The report by the Center for Public Integrity also states that, unlike most elected members of state offices, judges are not required to report stock holdings and financial portfolios, which could give them unfair advantage in the stock market if a trial featuring a certain company comes to light.

Federal judges who own as much as $25 of stock in a company involved in a suit must recuse themselves. That’s not the case in Vermont.

Yaël is a national reporter for Watchdog.org. Reach him by email at yael@watchdog.org and follow him @YaelOss.