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The Boston Globe


State ethics panel backs free legal help for judges

Opinion may aid jurist Dougan

An ethics panel of the ­Supreme Judicial Court has concluded that judges may ­accept free legal services to fight misconduct charges, poten­tially killing a state investigation into District Court Judge Raymond G. Dougan’s controversial acceptance of more than $85,000 in free services from a prominent Boston law firm.

The finding by the Committee on Judicial Ethics, a five-member panel that advises judges, challenges a longstanding state policy that required judges to pay their own legal bills to avoid the potential for conflict. The concern had been that a lawyer donating legal services might later expect that judge to repay the favor with a friendly ruling from the bench.

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