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Gauthier 18L: Reform needed in SEC to guarantee a fair adjudicator

Emory University School of Law |
Emory Law Journal
Lucy Gauthier 18L

In a recent issue of Emory Law Journal, Lucy Gauthier 18L explores criticisms of the Securities and Exchange Commission’s judges. During her 1L summer, Lucy Gauthier was a legal intern in the honors program at the US Securities & Exchange Commission in Washington, DC. Through her experience in the Division of Enforcement, she became aware of mounting criticisms faced by the SEC’s in-house administrative law judges.

Gauthier said, “When I was interning at the SEC, someone mentioned that the administrative law judges were ‘in-house judges.’ I was curious if this was the case only for the SEC, and did a quick search. I discovered multiple Wall Street Journal and New York Times articles critiquing the SEC’s in-house system for administrative proceedings. I found the statistics staggering; for example, a single administrative law judge at the SEC had ruled for the commission 100% of the time. I felt like this couldn’t possibly be true, and dug in more to the allegations. I came to the conclusion that regardless of whether the administrative law judges’ rulings in favor of the SEC were the correct outcome, the system would appear rigged to a defendant.”

When she returned to Emory following her internship, she developed the topic with her advisor, Professor Jonathan Nash, who encouraged her to delve further into these allegations for her student comment to appear in Volume 67, Issue 1 of the journal. “I wanted to advocate for a change in the system to increase the appearance of a neutral adjudicator in administrative proceedings,” she explained. 

Read Gauthier’s comment, titled “Insider Trading: The Problem with the SEC’s In-House ALJS,” at