Elsewhere online
January 20, 2016

Opinion: Time to Stop Courts From Compelling Donations

A law professor assails the practice of federal judges and prosecutors incorporating compulsory charitable gifts into verdicts and settlements in a Wall Street Journal opinion column. Ronald D. Rotunda of Chapman University in California writes that doing so skirts legal and ethical restrictions on judicial officials soliciting for favored organizations.

Mr. Rotunda says his anecdotal research turned up "probably hundreds of instances" of court-ordered giving, from a judge telling a lawyer to donate $500 to a bar foundation for using his cellphone in the courtroom to Justice Department settlements requiring companies like Citibank and Bank of America to give hundreds of millions of dollars to nonprofits. He recommends that Congress authorize private suits by defendants through which judges and prosecutors could be required to make donations to the U.S. Treasury matching their charitable-gift orders.