RI Supreme Court justice wins appeal of $200 ethics violation


July 27, 2020

By Eli Sherman, Walt Buteau

With R.I. Supreme Court Justice Francis Flaherty winning a key victory in his yearslong fight against an ethics complaint, the state’s high court could soon find itself in the unusual position of hearing a case involving one of its own.

R.I. Superior Court Judge Brian Stern on Friday reversed a R.I. Ethics Commission decision from last year that cited Flaherty for violating the state’s ethics code. The violation, which came with a $200 fine, stemmed from a 2016 complaint accusing Flaherty of repeatedly failing to disclose his leadership position in a Catholic nonprofit while also ruling on a priest sexual abuse case.

Stern vacated that decision, however, concluding in part the commission had failed to prove Flaherty made a “knowing and willful” violation, meaning commission lawyers didn’t show Flaherty intentionally withheld the information.

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