A federal judge in Manhattan has handed the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission a big defeat over its use of in-house judges, halting its case against a former Standard & Poor’s executive because the way SEC judges who handle such cases are appointed is likely unconstitutional.
U.S. District Judge Richard Berman issued a preliminary injunction on Wednesday stopping the regulator’s civil administrative proceeding against Barbara Duka, the former S&P executive, over her role in an alleged fraud involving mortgage debt ratings.
Berman is at least the second federal judge to halt in-house SEC cases because of concern that the regulator’s practice of letting staff rather than commissioners appoint its five administrative law judges may be unconstitutional.
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