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Federal judge in Oklahoma may be questioned about possible ethical violations

Updated:
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- An Oklahoma federal judge in line for a federal appeals court position will be questioned about possible ethical violations.

Tracy Schmaler is a spokeswoman for Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Schmaler says US District Judge James Payne of Muskogee will likely be quizzed about a news report from Salon.com that said he's issued about 100 court orders in 18 cases involving corporation in which he owned stock.

Schmaler said judicial ethics has always been a line of inquiry that interests Leahy, who recently introduced legislation on the topic.

Payne has declined comment.

The Judiciary Committee hasn't set a hearing date.

President Bush last fall nominated Payne to fill a vacancy on the Tenth US Circuit Court of Appeals, which Oklahoma and five other states.
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