University of Pittsburgh

Professor Arthur Hellman Comments on “Uncommon” Negligence Suit Filed by Federal Judge

Publish Date/Time: 
February 13, 2014

A federal judge has filed a negligence suit against his dentist in District of Columbia Superior Court, and Pitt Law Professor Arthur D. Hellman talked to Legal Times of Washington (National Law Journal) about the unusual episode. The judge is Senior Judge Laurence Silberman of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

There are no ethics rules preventing judges from bringing lawsuits, said Hellman. “Judges don’t give up their rights as citizens when they become judges,” he said. It's uncommon to see a judge file a complaint, he added, “but it does happen.”

The case was filed in Superior Court, as opposed to the federal trial court in Washington. Silberman’s appearance as a plaintiff, then, didn't raise any automatic conflict issues, Hellman said. The presiding judge, Judge Stuart Nash, would be required to follow the same recusal rules as in any other case if the judge or parties identified any conflicts, he said.

Read the full article here.           


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