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Once Sentara Co-Counsel, Judge and Lawyer Now Face Ethics Complaints Over Potential Conflicts

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I’m not sure what to make of this story, but the Checks and Balances Project does good work, and the story seems worth sharing. In short: “After revealing potential conflicts of interest involving Norfolk Circuit Court Chief Judge Mary Jane Hall in a two-part series on Feb. 19 and 22, Checks and Balances Project (C&BP) has filed an ethics complaint with the Judicial Inquiry and Review Commission of Virginia.  Hall risks a finding of judicial misconduct for ruling on powerful Sentara Healthcare’s attempt to derail the expansion of rival Chesapeake Regional Medical Center.”

Once Sentara Co-Counsel, Judge and Lawyer Now Face Ethics Complaints Over Potential Conflicts

Investigative watchdog blog Checks and Balances Project (C&BP) has filed an ethics complaint with the Judicial Inquiry and Review Commission of Virginia against Norfolk Circuit Court Chief Judge Mary Jane Hall.

In a 2019 case, Hall sided with Sentara Healthcare, Hall’s former client, as the regional healthcare giant blocked local competitor Chesapeake Regional Medical Center from expanding. The case is now before the Virginia Supreme Court.

C&BP’s reporting has revealed that as an attorney with the law firm McCandlish Kaine & Grant, Hall represented Sentara in a long-running case to get a liver-transplant facility. Since becoming a judge in 2009, she has never recused herself from any cases involving her former client and did not disclose that she once represented Sentara.

Hall also failed to disclose that Sentara’s counsel in the Chesapeake case before her was Jamie B. Martin, who had been Hall’s co-counsel representing Sentara in the liver-transplant facility case. Martin failed to disclose this potential conflict to the court and opposing counsel.

C&BP has also filed a complaint on Martin’s actions with the Virginia State Bar Association.

The Virginia Canons of Judicial Conduct states: “A judge shall disqualify himself or herself in a proceeding in which the judge’s impartiality might reasonably be questioned.”

Hall has declined requests for comment about why she did not report these potential conflicts of interest herself.

Sentara has aggressively sought to dominate the health care market in Hampton Roads, Virginia, amassing a $6 billion cash reserve. Its lobbying reach has enmeshed its interests in state and regional bureaucracies that govern its business.

“This pro-Sentara ruling by its old attorney is another example of how Sentara’s influence continues to shape health care options in the region,” said C&BP Executive Director Scott Peterson. “Sentara is emerging as one of the untold powerhouses in Virginia.”

Today, the company continues seeking to throttle competition as it seeks an $11.5 billion dollar merger with North Carolina’s Cone Health.

About Checks and Balances Project

Checks and Balances Project is an investigative watchdog blog holding government officials, lobbyists, and corporate management accountable to the public. Funding for C&BP is provided by Renew American Prosperity and individual donors.

SOURCE The Checks and Balances Project

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