The Center for Public Integrity released a report yesterday on the financial disclosure requirements of state supreme court justices. As one might suspect, Utah ranks at the bottom.
In fact, Utah is one of just three states that has no disclosure requirements whatsoever. Idaho, Montana and Utah all received scores of 0–placing them dead last in the national rankings.
According to the report, “Utah justices, who are appointed to 10-year renewable terms by the governor, are not required to disclose any information about their personal financial interests.”
That includes household income, investments, gifts and liabilities. And, since none of those disclosures are required, they’re obviously not available for public viewing.
Disclosures are especially important in the case of state supreme court justices because justices could be called on to arbitrate in cases in which they have an interest in the outcome. For example, a judge could hear a case in which she or he owns stock in a plaintiff’s company, but without disclosure reports, it would be extremely difficult for the public to determine whether or not a conflict exists.
Though it is true that justices can voluntarily recuse themselves from hearing a case, a lack of disclosure makes it difficult for good government groups like ours to hold justices accountable by monitoring whether or not judges are recusing themselves when they should be.