CFTC Judge Says Colleague Biased Against Investors with Complaints

According to Commodities Future Trading Commission Judge George H. Painter, his colleague, Judge Bruce Levine, is biased against investors that file complaints. Painter, 83, claims that Levine has a secret deal with former CFTC Chairwoman Wendy Gramm that he would never issue a ruling that favored a complainant.

Painter made these allegations as he was preparing to retire. He is one of two administrative law judges that preside over investor complaints at the CFTC. He requested that his pending cases not be assigned to Levine.

Painter says that Levine makes pro se complainants endure a “hostile procedural gauntlet” until eventually, they are willing to withdraw their case or “settle for a pittance.” Levine has not commented on the allegations. However, according to a Wall Street Journal story that was published 10 years ago, Levine has never ruled in favor of an investor.

Painter is recommending that the CFTC bring in another administrative judge. He has six cases pending before him. Their total claims exceed $1 million.

Stockbroker Fraud Lawyer William Shepherd said, “We have been suspect of commodities reparations proceedings for some time, but WOW!” Shepherd noted. “Other avenues are available, including commodities arbitration and court in Chicago. Some cases may also be decided in securities arbitration when the participants are dually licensed. It is essential that an aggrieved investor hire a law firm with experience, including the knowledge of how to choose the most appropriate forum.”

Meantime, the WSJ is reporting that Painter issued rulings at the CFTC while his wife was battling alcoholism and mental illness and that he did so as recently as February. In August, a psychiatrist wrote that the judge was suffering from a “profound” disability that has rendered him unable to make responsible decisions. His wife, CFTC lawyer Elizabeth Ritter, is seeking guardianship over him. The couple are in the middle of a divorce. The judge’s attorney denies that his client is suffering from Alzheimer’s.

Case Sheds Light on Judge, The Wall Street Journal, October 21, 2010
Commodity Futures Trading Commission judge says colleague biased against complainants, The Washington Post, October 19, 2010
Commodities Future Trading Commission

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