CINCINNATI: A judicial conduct panel has recommended that the U.S. Department of Justice investigate thousands of dollars in travel expenses by the former chief judge of the federal appeals court in Cincinnati.
Retired Judge Boyce F. Martin, who is based in Louisville, Ky., contested some claims but conceded some mistakes, his spokeswoman said Tuesday.
The Cincinnati Enquirer reported that court records indicate that the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals’ current chief judge, Alice M. Batchelder, raised concerns about questionable reimbursement requests from Martin between 2008 and 2012. The records don’t provide details of the questioned expenses.
The Cincinnati-based appellate court handles cases from Ohio, Kentucky, Michigan and Tennessee. Appeals judges travel from their home states for oral arguments and other case matters. They also sometimes attend out-of-state conferences or have other judicial business on the road.
Martin’s spokeswoman Claire Parker said he agreed to repay reimbursements totaling $138,500. She said the amount in question was only “a fraction” of that, but that he voluntarily repaid the full amount. She said Martin “looks forward to working with the Department of Justice to resolve this matter expeditiously.”
The Committee on Judicial Conduct and Disability of the Judicial Conference of the United States, which oversees federal courts, last week rejected Martin’s appeal of the case’s referral to the Justice Department. A legal expert said it was “quite unusual” to see the referral to the section that investigates public officials on allegations of criminal misconduct.
“I’m still trying to absorb that the federal judiciary has referred one of their own judges to the public integrity section,” said Arthur Hellman, a University of Pittsburgh law professor. “That is stunning.”
Records indicate the scrutiny over expenses was a factor in Martin’s retirement in August. The 78-year-old judge served on the federal appeals court more than three decades. He was an appointee of President Jimmy Carter. Batchelder was an appointee of President George H.W. Bush.