Should State Bar Pay for Justices’ Meeting Travel? Law Prof Calls Practice ‘Horrific’
Posted Aug 20, 2012 9:12 AM CST
By Debra Cassens Weiss
When Chief Justice Ronald Castille attended a winter meeting of the Pennsylvania Bar Association at the Casa Marina Resort in Key West, Fla., the bar picked up his $2,240 tab.
Castille is among five of the state supreme court’s seven justices who reported accepting travel or hospitality on their disclosure forms, the Morning Call reports. Two other justices also attended state bar meetings, a third attended a Philadelphia Bar Association meeting, and a fourth attended a conference of the Academy of Trial Lawyers, with travel costs paid at least partly by the groups.
Castille says he is leader of the third branch of government, and the bar is the courts’ associate. Attending such meetings is important, he says, and there is no preferential treatment given as a result.
Duquesne University law professor Bruce Ledewitz criticizes the practice, saying justices shouldn’t be accepting hospitality from lawyers. "It's horrific, it's horrible," he tells the newspaper. In his view, judges or taxpayers should be picking up the travel costs. "Everyone is a potential litigant," he said. "It muddies the waters."
Castille disagrees, calling Ledewitz a "self-proclaimed expert at everything."
Hat tip to How Appealing.