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Report: Maryland gets C for financial disclosures for judges

Maryland receives a grade of C, but just barely, when it comes to financial disclosures filed by the state’s top judges, according to a report released by the Center for Public Integrity.

coa2013groupphoto600In the report, Maryland and California ranked the highest with scores of 72.5 and 77 out of 100 respectively according to the ratings developed by the watchdog reporting group.

Six other states received D grades and 42 others failed, according to the report.

The report credits the state with some of the toughest laws in the country when it comes to financial disclosures for judges but raised some concerns including requirements that require in-person inspections of the forms by the public and don’t ask judges to report reimbursements for some conference expenses.

Also noted was a case in which Court of Appeals Judge Glenn Harrell Jr. disclosed having a mortgage with JPMorgan Chase but authored a 2012 opinion involving the lender and secondary mortgages.

“It’s true that I had the refinance loan on my home,” Harrell told the Center. “There’s no actual conflict. It’s a commercial rate available to others. I always pay my bill on time and I hold no grudge against them.”

Harrell added that his second mortgage through the bank did not meet Maryland’s standard for recusal.

“If I had owned stock in JPMorgan that would be entirely different,” he said.

This is not the first time financial disclosures for Maryland judges has been criticized.

In 2011, The Daily Record reported that since 1975 the state’s top judges have reported the bare minimum on their reports “listing information only if it varies from the prior year’s filing.”

In most cases, the judges simply wrote “no change” on their reports.