Today in United States v. Quattrone (here), a unanimous three-judge panel of the Second Circuit not only overturned Frank Quatrone's conviction; it also ordered that a different trial judge hear the case. Judge Richard Owen of the Southern District of New York would not be allowed to preside over Frank Quattrone's re-trial.
The panel was quick to point out that Judge Owen was a "dedicated jurist" who wasn't really that biased against Frank Quattrone or John Keker. (Insiders and those familiar with the case are collectively sighing, "Yeah, right.")
Among other evidence demonstrating Judge Owen's biased behavior, Quattrone's appellate lawyers cited a significant amount of press coverage indicating the media's widely-held believe that Judge Owen was biased. Although these reports do not prove that Judge Owen was actually biased, they are strong evidence that Judge Owen did not appear impartial. An ethical judge must be both impartial, and appear to be impartial to reasonable observers.
Of the numerous media reports cited, the panel writes:
In attempting to argue that numerous media commentators noted the allegedly biased conduct of the trial court judge, Quattrone cites only one newspaper article in the text of his Opening Brief though he collects others in a footnote.
I'm not sure why the panel expected Quattrone's appellate lawyers to waste precious pages with the exact quotes, given that the judges' law clerks all have access to Lexis-Nexis. In any event, the panel's footnote omits a material fact (where's the SEC's equivalent for judges?): New York's criminal defense bar cited and quoted numerous articles discussing Judge Owen's unethical conduct. Simply click here for a collection of citations and quotes from commentators. Why didn't the panel cite this brief or quote any relevant language?
I suppose it was easier for Judges Wesley, Hall, and Scullin to pretend that that no evidence of judicial misconduct existed, rather than properly and publicy note Judge Owen's judicial misconduct. For that, Judges Wesley, Hall, and Scullin are almost as worthy of our disapprobation as Judge Owen is.
Remember, Quattrone, like Martha Stewart and so many others, was prosecuted for the cover-up, not the crime. It is therefore quite odd that three judges would so quickly cover-up Judge Owen's unethical conduct.