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Judge took trips with lawyer in two cases

Feb. 27, 2004 at 9:51 AM

WASHINGTON, Feb. 27 (UPI) -- U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia says there were no ethical breaches when he went on hunting trips organized by a lawyer with cases pending before him.

The Los Angeles Times said Friday Scalia was the guest of a Kansas law school two years ago and went pheasant hunting on a trip arranged by the school's law school dean, Stephen McAllister, all within weeks of hearing two cases in which the dean was a lead attorney.

The cases involved issues of public policy important to Kansas officials, namely disputed laws to confine sex offenders and a prison program for treating sex offenders.

Scalia eventually sided with Kansas in both cases.

In a written statement, Scalia said: "I do not think that spending time at a law school in which the counsel in pending cases was the dean could reasonably cause my impartiality to be questioned."

Not all legal professionals agree.

"When a case is on the docket before a judge, the coziness of meeting privately with a lawyer is questionable," said Chicago lawyer Robert Cummins, who headed an Illinois board on judicial ethics. "It would seem the better part of judgment to avoid those situations."

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