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SEC Suspends Some In-House Court Cases After Court of Appeals Issues Ruling

May 24, 2017

The fate of the SEC's in-house administrative law judges plays out in two U.S. Courts of Appeal:


  • The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit in Denver earlier this month turned down a request by the SEC to reconsider an earlier which found that the SEC's hiring of administrative law judges violated the Constitution, and thus likely nullifies hundreds of decisions made in securities cases in Colorado and 5 other Western states. 


  • The U.S Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, which previously sided with the SEC when it found that the Agency's hiring of administrative law judges did not violate federal law, heard oral arguments Wednesday morning and is due to reconsider its earlier ruling - albeit an opinion could be months away.


  • In any event, the issue of whether the SEC's use of administrative law judges is constitutional is likely headed for the U.S. Supreme Court.


In the meantime, the SEC will err on the side of caution. In an order issued 5/22, the SEC announced that it has opted to suspend some of its pending in-house cases - specifically, any cases in which a defendant will have an option to appeal a case before the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals, covering Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Utah and Wyoming.