I would have to say that this is unprecedented, at least I hope so:
Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) Administrative Law Judge George H. Painter made serious allegations regarding fellow CFTC judge Bruce Levine in announcing his retirement.In a notice sent to complainants and their attorneys, Judge Painter claims that Levine told him that he had promised former CFTC Chair Wendy Gramm “that he would never rule in a complainants favor”. Painter’s notice goes on to say, “A review of his rulings will confirm that he has fulfilled his vow.”
In the notice Painter recommends the CFTC request the services of an administrative law judge to be detailed to the Commission from another regulatory agency to handle the remain cases on his docket. Painter writes, “If I simply announced my intention to retire, the seven reparation cases on my docket would be reassigned to the only other administrative law judge at the Commission, Judge Levine. This I could not do in good conscience.”
Yes, I’d say those charges are pretty serious, and disturbing. Judges don’t, as a rule, criticize one another. Things must have been pretty bad for Painter to break that rule. But it doesn’t seem that in the end it will have a real effect.
Painter’s criticisms are limited to reparations cases (basically cases where customers of brokerage firms claim their brokers have failed in their duties towards them, and cost them money). But he raises questions about the possibility of an ideological bias that could have affected decisions in other cases too.
I have been involved in a couple of Levine’s cases. I’ve heard stories, but this is neither the time nor the place. I would hope that there is some mechanism for investigating Painter’s allegations, and either clearing Judge Levine’s name if they are baseless, or holding him accountable if they are not.