An appeal filed in the California Supreme Court contends that two state appellate court justices owned stock in Boeing Co. while they were involved in deciding whether to reverse a multimillion-dollar award against the firm.
The legal challenge filed Tuesday by ICO Global Communications said the justices removed themselves from the case before a decision was reached favoring Boeing, but their moves to step out came nearly two years after the appeal was filed and gave a justice newly appointed to the case only 12 days before arguments to review a large number of documents.
The appellate court later reversed a $603 million jury trial award against Boeing for breaching a contract with ICO to build and launch satellites. ICO says it was denied due process due to the recusals of the justices.
The appellate brief cited required disclosure forms filed by the justices that were obtained from the court and the Fair Political Practices commission.
The documents showed that the first jurist to recuse herself from the case was Associate Justice Elizabeth Grimes, who did not state the reason she was doing so. However lawyers for ICO said Justice Grimes had filed a disclosure form showing that she owned between $100,000 and $1 million in Boeing stock.
The court immediately named Presiding Justice Tricia Bigelow to step in. But before the case could be argued, Bigelow also withdrew.
"Again, no grounds for recusal were given," said the appeal. "However, Justice Bigelow's financial disclosure forms show that she owns between $2,000 and $10,000 of Boeing stock."
A third justice, Steven Perren, was appointed to step into the case but the lawyers said he had only 12 days to review 55,000 pages of documents before arguments.
"Both Due Process and sound judicial administration required the Court of Appeal to begin the decision-making process anew, with a wholly new panel," the ICO attorneys argued.
The jury verdict was reversed in full favoring Boeing. When the jury made the award of $603 million in 2008, it was one of the largest in the state's history and the largest verdict in the nation that year.
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