Rule 12.4


Rule 12.4 Disclosure Statement

(a) Who Must File.

(1) Nongovernmental Corporate Party. Any nongovernmental corporate party to a proceeding in a district court must file a statement that identifies any parent corporation and any publicly held corporation that owns 10% or more of its stock or states that there is no such corporation.

(2) Organizational Victim. If an organization is a victim of the alleged criminal activity, the government must file a statement identifying the victim. If the organizational victim is a corporation, the statement must also disclose the information required by Rule 12.4(a)(1) to the extent it can be obtained through due diligence.

(b) Time for Filing; Supplemental Filing. A party must:

(1) file the Rule 12.4(a) statement upon the defendant's initial appearance; and

(2) promptly file a supplemental statement upon any change in the information that the statement requires.

(Added Apr. 29, 2002, eff. Dec. 1, 2002.)

Committee Notes on Rules—2002

Rule 12.4 is a new rule modeled after Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 26.1 and parallels similar provisions being proposed in new Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 7.1. The purpose of the rule is to assist judges in determining whether they must recuse themselves because of a “financial interest in the subject matter in controversy.” Code of Judicial Conduct, Canon 3C(1)(c)(1972). It does not, however, deal with other circumstances that might lead to disqualification for other reasons.

Under Rule 12.4(a)(1), any nongovernmental corporate party must file a statement that indicates whether it has any parent corporation that owns 10% or more of its stock or indicates that there is no such corporation. Although the term “nongovernmental corporate party” will almost always involve organizational defendants, it might also cover any third party that asserts an interest in property to be forfeited under new Rule 32.2.

Rule 12.4(a)(2) requires an attorney for the government to file a statement that lists any organizational victims of the alleged criminal activity; the purpose of this disclosure is to alert the court to the fact that a possible ground for disqualification might exist. Further, if the organizational victim is a corporation, the statement must include the same information required of any nongovernmental corporate party. The rule requires an attorney for the government to use due diligence in obtaining that information from a corporate organizational victim, recognizing that the timing requirements of Rule 12.4(b) might make it difficult to obtain the necessary information by the time the initial appearance is conducted.

Although the disclosures required by Rule 12.4 may seem limited, they are calculated to reach the majority of circumstances that are likely to call for disqualification on the basis of information that a judge may not know or recollect. Framing a rule that calls for more detailed disclosure is problematic and will inevitably require more information than is necessary for purposes of automatic recusal. Unnecessary disclosure of volumes of information may create the risk that a judge will overlook the one bit of information that might require disqualification, and may also create the risk that courts will experience unnecessary disqualifications rather than attempt to unravel a potentially difficult question.

The same concerns about overbreadth are potentially present in any local rules that might address this topic. Rule 12.4 does not address the promulgation of any local rules that might address the same issue, or supplement the requirements of the rule.

The rule does not cover disclosure of all financial information that could be relevant to a judge's decision whether to recuse himself or herself from a case. The Committee believes that with the various disclosure practices in the federal courts and with the development of technology, more comprehensive disclosure may be desirable and feasible.

Rule 12.4(b)(1) indicates that the time for filing the disclosure statement is at the point when the defendant enters an initial appearance under Rule 5. Although there may be other instances where an earlier appearance of a party in a civil proceeding would raise concerns about whether the presiding judicial officer should be notified of a possible grounds for recusal, the Committee believed that in criminal cases, the most likely time for that to occur is at the initial appearance and that it was important to set a uniform triggering event for disclosures under this rule.

Finally, Rule 12.4(b)(2) requires the parties to file supplemental statements with the court if there are any changes in the information required in the statement.

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