Monday, May 15, 2006

Sanding off the truth -- Kansas-style

Posted by Craig Westover | 6:29 PM |  

John LaPlante, PolicyGuy, sends along the following article from Kansas, where they are having their own Dean Johnson truth-sanding exercise.
TOPEKA, Kan. - A Kansas Supreme Court justice violated judicial rules during a lunch when he and two senators discussed the way Kansas lawmakers fund public schools, which is at the heart of a lawsuit still before the high court, according to a complaint filed Friday.

The complaint, filed by an examiner for the Commission on Judicial Qualifications, accuses Justice Lawton Nuss of violating three canons of the judiciary's code of conduct by having a March 1 conversation with Senate President Steve Morris, R-Hugoton, and Sen. Pete Brungardt, R-Salina, a longtime Nuss friend.

The senators said they briefly discussed school finance issues, with an education funding lawsuit still before the court, which had mandated the state spend more money on education. . . .

Last month, Gov. Kathleen Sebelius said she was "incredibly unhappy" that a justice had talked to legislators about school finance. She later acknowledged Morris had made an "offhand" comment to her in March about having talked to someone associated with the court. . . .

Andrew Kaufman, a Harvard Law School professor who teaches legal ethics, said judges learn shortly after getting on the bench about prohibitions on discussing cases with outsiders.

"Any judge ought to know," he said. "They're not supposed to speak to members of their own family."

He said a key issue is keeping a trial fair and making sure that if a judge or justice receives information, all parties know about it.