Transparency In The Federal Courts?


I've known for years that United States District Judge Robert N. Chatigny would not preside over cases of mine. And it hasn't bothered me one whit. I've not really been curious about the reasons, either. Gratitude was my only reaction: I'd rather sun bathe in a meat locker than try a case in his courtroom.

I remain grateful, but I do confess to becoming curious when Chatigny was nominated for a seat on the Second Circuit. What piqued my interest was reading his questionnaire prepared for the Senate. The questionnaire is posted on the Senate Judiciary Committee's web page.

I learned that the District of Connecticut has a recusal policy, and that judges can list those folks on whose cases they won't sit. In judge Chatigny's case, that list included "certain lawyers."

Who else is on the judge's list?m I wondered. A paralegal called the court to request a copy of the list. We were told the list is confidential. So we sent in a Freedom of Information Act request.

"The courts of the United States are specifically exempted from the requirements of the FOIA by 5 U.S.C. Section 551(1)(b). and I am unaware of any other applicable statute or regulation that would require disclosure of the requested information," the clerk rights.

I understand the application of various privileges, such as one covering deliberative processes. But this seems a little too broad a sweep. Has Congress really granted a blanket exemption from transparency? Isn't that taking the Oz metaphor a little too far?

Comments: (3)

  • Just pulled up the statute. Yep, they're exempt. ...
    Just pulled up the statute. Yep, they're exempt. Congress is, too:
    http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/5/usc_sec_05_00000551----000-.html
    Posted on March 22, 2010 at 7:42 am by Mike
  • During his confirmation hearing, Chatigny may be a...
    During his confirmation hearing, Chatigny may be asked about his "friends and enemies list." The Senate should definitely pursue that line of questioning. If Chatigny is biased, we as the public have a right to know why.
    Posted on March 22, 2010 at 7:43 am by Mike
  • Yup, Chutney is biased,... biased against Constitu...
    Yup, Chutney is biased,... biased against Constitutional due-process of law in the United States of America: Doriss v. City of New Haven, et al, 05-668 RNC. What a farce this man is.
    Why indeed should the judicial branch be exempt from FOI? I don't get it?!? My guess is, they have plenty to hide. That is also the reason for their near-universal opposition to cameras in the courtroom. I say, Shine the light of day into every corner of the courtroom. After all, the press--the so-called 'third estate'--abdicated its proper role long ago, some time after Edward R. Murrow.
    Can U say McCarthyism? (Forgot his first name, not Eugene.)
    Posted on March 22, 2010 at 10:41 am by William Doriss

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