Call Us Today:713-426-2244

News & Blog


12-05-2016 - Legal Updates

In Texas, a juvenile criminal record can be sealed in two ways:  (1) automatically restricted to everyone except criminal justice agencies; and (2) permanently sealed and concealed from all.  The…

11-05-2016 - Legal Updates

In Texas, sexting crimes committed by minors and adults are treated differently, with different laws used to prosecute minors versus adults and differing penalties as well. Minor Sexting Texas’ law…

10-05-2016 - Legal Updates

The mother of “affluenza” teen Ethan Couch, who received probation for killing four people while driving drunk, made the grave error of trying to help her son escape more trouble…

09-05-2016 - Legal Updates

Typically, federal courts have exclusive jurisdiction over federal offenses and state courts have exclusive jurisdiction over state offenses.   In some cases, certain crimes can qualify as both federal and state…

06-05-2016 - Legal Updates

  Texas passed a stand your ground law in 2007, which allows for the use of force “when and to the degree the actor reasonably believes the force is immediately…

05-05-2016 - Fraud

A Watertown, Massachusetts, man has been convicted of securities fraud after a federal jury in Boston found him guilty of profiting from an insider trading tip he received on a…

Federal Judge Says SEC’s Use of In-House Judges “Likely Unconstitutional”

July 14, 2015 by Cogdell Law Firm


A federal judge in Atlanta has temporarily halted the SEC’s insider trading case against Charles Hill, finding that the use of an in-house judge to preside over the administrative proceeding is “likely unconstitutional,” according to a Wall Street Journal report.

The SEC has five administrative law judges to hear cases the agency decides not to try in federal court.  Following the passage of Dodd-Frank, the SEC has tried a majority of its cases before its in-house judges, electing to file the suits as administrative proceedings rather than federal court cases.

Hill, an Atlanta real estate developer, was charged by the SEC with making illicit profits from a trading tip he allegedly received from a friend.  Hill sued the SEC in federal court to block the administrative proceeding, citing a WSJ article in May 2015 that said the agency won 90% of its cases tried before in-house judges from October 2010 to March 2015.

Hill’s case was set to be tried before SEC administrative law judge James Grimes, who was hired by the agency through its office of in-house judges rather than by appointment approved by the five commissioners.

U.S. District Judge Leigh Martin May ruled that Hill had a “substantial likelihood of success” arguing that the SEC appointment of Grimes violated the Appointments Clause in Article II of the Constitution.  She found that the Constitution requires the appointment of an “officer” such as an administrative law judge be made by agency leadership, the president or the courts, not more junior officials.

Whether you are facing a serious federal white-collar prosecution, a state murder charge, or misdemeanor charges, The Cogdell Law Firm has the experience, knowledge and reputation you want for your legal team.  When results matter most, contact Dan Cogdell at 713-426-2244 or