Under a rule judges made for their benefit only, they can take $150 secret `gifts` (bribes) from lawyers, special interests and anyone else. They can keep these `gifts` (bribes) secret – they do not have to report them to anyone. They can take unlimited number of these `gifts` (bribes) – as many as they want. The rule is on the internet, you can see it yourself.
The rule is part of the Canons of Judicial Conduct. The paragraph that states the rule is very convoluted. In simplified language it states that a judge can accept:
`Any other gift, loan, bequest, or other thing of value not exceeding $150, if the source of person is not a party or other person who, directly or indirectly, has come or is likely to come before the judge, or whose interests have come or are likely to come before the judge.`
The rule allows a lawyer or person to appear before a judge even if a partner or associate gives the judge $150 gifts (bribes). Thus, law firms commonly designate a `DE` (designated entertainer) to give judge gifts up to $150 in value. DEs do not appear in court.
To see the rule, go to a search engine like Google and enter <Minnesota Canons Judicial Conduct> Scroll to 3 (D) (5) (h) to see the language quoted above. A judge must report the gift only if it is more than $150 in amount or value.
`That is scandalous` former Governor Quie said when he learned that judges can take up to $150 gifts from lawyers, special interests, and others. It is more than that – it is outrageous. Judges know they can take $150 `gifts` – as many as they want – and keep it a secret. They are well aware of their rules of judicial conduct. Many judges accept these secret gifts. If they do not, the rule would obviously be unnecessary and could be eliminated.
Legislators, legislative employees and employees of the executive (governor`s) branch of state government cannot accept `gifts` (bribes) in any amount over $5. This is because a code of ethics exists for the legislative and executive branches of state of government. There should be such a code for the judicial branch of government but there is not.
The legislator should outlaw `gifts` by anyone to judges except from members of their immediate family as other states have done. Judges should be required to publicly disclose all gifts received from anyone other than their immediate family. `Gifts` to judges promote judicial corruption and undermine justice.