On Friday, May 10, 2024, RisMedia reported that Stephen R. Bough, a United States district judge of the United States District Court for the Western District of Missouri, addressed alleged conflicts of interest during a settlement hearing for class-action commission lawsuits against major real estate brokerages.

According to a transcript of the proceedings released by the court, Judge Bough acknowledged claims that campaign contributions to his wife from plaintiff lawyers and real estate groups involved in the case could pose potential conflicts.

The transcript shows that Judge Bough began the hearing by explicitly mentioning an email from Anthony Phillips, president of Luxury Companies in Las Vegas, which outlined concerns about conflicts of interest in the case. Phillips noted that one of the plaintiffs’ attorneys, Matt Dameron, had donated to Judge Bough’s wife’s political campaign in 2019. Judge Bough confirmed discovering the contribution for the first time while reviewing his wife’s financial disclosures.

To address the potential conflicts, Judge Bough explained that ethics rules require him to ask both plaintiffs and defendants if they want him to recuse himself from the case due to the disclosed donations. After individually polling the legal teams, lawyers for both sides said they did not believe Judge Bough needed to step down. However, Judge Bough emphasized that because the monetary transactions were now public knowledge, he had a responsibility to take measures to ensure legal compliance and fairness in the proceedings.

Judge Bough went on to note that Phillips’ email also referenced plans to send information about the case to law enforcement agencies like the U.S. Attorney’s office and Department of Justice. In response, Judge Bough proactively notified the local U.S. Attorney about the situation, so their office could follow proper protocols for handling any judicial ethics issues. Throughout his remarks on the conflict allegations, Judge Bough maintained transparency and ensured all parties had opportunities to voice opinions on potential bias.

 

 

Source: RisMedia