Tabbing Goldberg Would Look Bad

Dan Yorke was all over the ProJo expose on potential RI Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen McKenna Goldberg and her husband, super-lobbyist Robert Goldberg. Mr. Goldberg has his hands in so many cookie jars that it would seem impossible for potential Chief Justice Goldberg to be able to rule on any number of potential cases without recusing herself. For instance, he has lobbied for interests in gambling (GTECH), alternative power (Deep Water Wind) and health care (CVS). How effective could she be when her spouse is involved–even if only peripherally–in any number of hot button issues? Plus, he’s a major political donor.

H. Philip West, former executive director of Rhode Island Common Cause and a longtime follower of the judicial selection process, wonders how much the Goldbergs share with each other about their work, and how that might affect their attitudes and actions.
“Bob has his hands in scores of policy and legal issues across state government,” says West. “I’m troubled that Maureen will have to recuse herself or by the anxiety that people might have if she doesn’t recuse herself.” Given her husband’s broad portfolio, from gambling to health care to energy to the environment, potential conflicts might not always be so obvious or apparent, he noted.
Echoes Arthur C. Barton, president of Operation Clean Government: “Legislation that her husband is paid to promote, she is paid to review. We don’t want a chief justice who is compromised, or has to recuse herself. It’s one of those things that taint government in Rhode Island, if the chief justice is married to the highest-paid lobbyist in the state.”
Barton says that Justice Goldberg’s presence on the bench could also be perceived as helping her husband’s law practice as well as his lobbying at the State House, where many legislative leaders are lawyers who earn their livelihood in court.

When both Common Cause and Operation Clean Government have raised alarms, I’d say that’s more than enough for me to have serious reservations. Whether Judge Goldberg recuses herself or not, the perceived, inferred and real influence of her own husband is enough to call her selection into question. Perhaps its unfair to well-connected individuals, but we’ll never change the negative perception of this state so long as we continue to go back to the same well of insiders time and again.

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joe bernstein
joe bernstein
14 years ago

Crowley has been trying to put what he calls right wing blogs on the defensive over not attacking the Goldberg situation aggressively.
#1:Who is Crowley that anyone needs to justify themselves to his allegations?I’m quite sure he feels no need to justify his positions to conservatives.
He believes what he does and we believe what we do.It’s not like we’re going to agree on that much.
#2:The above said,are the Goldbergs even Republicans,or non-Republican conservatives?I have no clue.
Now,the funny thing is I agree with Crowley,Yorke,and many others that Maureen Mckenna Goldberg would be a horrendous choice for Chief justice precisely because of potential conflict of interest.
I suspect that Rogieree Thompson avoided seeking a RI Supreme Court appointment because her husband is a District Court judge and her brother in law is a Superior Court judge,and imagine the potential minefield there.
As a federal appellate judge,any conflict on that account would be extremely unlikely.

14 years ago

Joe, Pat tries that tactic all of the time, the whole “silence” argument, etc. Whatever, you blog about what catches your eye when you have the time. Anyway, I was prompted by Yorke’s show yesterday (of which I only caught a little) and I didn’t get a chance to read the ProJo piece until lunch time today. Regardless, if Pat and AR and Yorke and CC and OCG all agree, welp, seems like a no-brainer!

14 years ago

If there’s any positive to this situation, it’s that this helps grandly illustrate how the whole corporate lobbyist-legislative-judicial complex negatively affects our state. The Bob Goldbergs of the state have gotten off too easy in the debate about our fiscal crisis.

14 years ago

I find this “conflict” debate hilarious. She’s been on the RISC bench how many years and people are just now starting to cry foul? You think she doesn’t recuse herself from a number of cases already because of ACTUAL conflicts? If there were any real harm to come of this relationship, we’d have seen it by now. These cries of “oh no, there’s a conflict there” are a few years too late and frankly just bogus.
And Bob is a Republican, his wife is a liberal. Philosophically they are not on the same page.
What you should be more concerned with is Carcieri possibly appointing Stern to head the District Court when the guy probably can’t even find the courthouse. A judge with less trial experience than most law students, now THAT is an appointment to be concerned about.

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