Recused is the news: Guess who won't be on the bench when oil spill litigation goes to court?

Mary Ann Vial Lemmon, Lance M. Africk, Helen G. Berrigan, Ivan L.R. Lemelle,  Jay C. Zainey, and, in some cases, Kurt D. Engelhardt – and the only remaining question, IMO, is how long will it take NRB to post a comment to Bloomberg’s Judges Quit BP Gulf Oil-Spill Lawsuits Over Conflicts:

“We have five orders of recusal at the moment,” Gene Smith, chief deputy clerk of the New Orleans court, said in a May 28 telephone interview… A sixth, Judge Kurt D. Engelhardt, is also recusing himself from some cases, Judge Carl J. Barbier told lawyers last month. A seventh will join the group, he said.

Barbier, who didn’t include himself in the count, owns Transocean Sedco Forex notes and Halliburton Co. debentures, according to disclosure statements obtained from the Web site of Judicial Watch, a self-styled conservative advocacy group based in Washington.

According to the latest version of the Bloomberg story, “Barbier didn’t respond to a request for comment, left with one of his law clerks, on whether there is a conflict between his investments and the oil-spill litigation.”  However, Judge Barbier’s financial disclosure form is the answer that works for me.  Anyone who also owns a piece of Anheuser-Busch and Wal-Mart is man enough to not be influenced by Transocean and Halliburton!

In the federal judicial district based in Lafayette, Louisiana, Judge Tucker Melancon stepped aside from some oil- spill cases, according to court records.

Alabama hasn’t seen a “wholesale” withdrawal of judges from spill cases, said Jeff Reinert, chief deputy clerk of the judicial district based in Mobile.

“But several have stepped down from individual cases over relationship issues with the law firms involved,” he said. “Either their friend or son works there.”

BP and other defendants in spill cases asked the multidistrict panel to put the case in Houston, home of each one’s U.S. operational headquarters. The companies asked that the case be assigned to Judge Lynn Hughes.

Hughes has lectured for an oilfield industry professional group that pays his travel expenses, according to filings obtained from the Judicial Watch website…

Hughes also owns six mutual funds that include shares in companies involved in the spill, including one fund whose largest component is Anadarko Petroleum Corp., a minority partner in the damaged well, according to the filings.

Among Hughes’s reported mutual fund holdings are Legg Mason Aggressive Growth Fund, which was almost 10 percent Anadarko at the end of March, and AIM Basic Value Fund, which included shares of Halliburton and Transocean as of the same period.

Hughes, in an e-mail, declined to discuss any aspect of the oil spill case before him or any potential conflict of interest.

“I’m happy to do it,” Hughes told lawyers at hearing in his Houston court last month, referring to the proposed oil- spill litigation. “But I’m certainly not going to love you for it.”

The case is In Re: Oil Spill by the Oil Rig “Deepwater Horizon” in the Gulf of Mexico on April 20, U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation, MDL-2179, Washington.

BP Plc and Transocean Ltd. oil-spill lawsuits may be combined before a judge from outside the Gulf Coast states, because judges in the region are withdrawing from cases, citing conflicts of interest.

The Judicial Watch website has the financial disclosure forms filed by all federal judges, including the members of the Fifth Circuit.

5 thoughts on “Recused is the news: Guess who won't be on the bench when oil spill litigation goes to court?”

  1. Man o man Nowdy that list captures most all the corporate show shine boys in NOLA’s Eastern District! This is a happy day for those impacted, especially those that do not live the uptown fantasy life i.e. “Those people”.

    Take Feldman out of the picture and ordinary folks may just stand a chance in NOLA FD court. I wonder about Walker, Ozerden and the other corporate show shiners over here on the coast.


  2. If Magistrates file disclosure statements, those are not posted. However, the information is there for all district judges (all districts), all circuit Judges (all circuits), and the Supremes.

    Pretty interesting reading.

  3. OOOOOOOOOOwweeeeeeeeeeeeee Nowdy, great journalism !!! So now we know that even before the “royal Rothchilds'” oil company BS has even capped the well “the fix” has been set into motion.We need to turn President Nungesser loose on Judge Lynn Hughes if the case is assigned to him, as I think Hughes could use some good ole’ cajun donut-dunking in the oily waters of St. Bernard to make him realize he has conflicts!!!! OOOOOOOOOwweeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

  4. Ozerden owns a whole life policy with State Farm which probably makes him an owner of the mutual company. He also has a universal life product with Allstate.

    By way of comparison, CPAs could not provide audit or review services with a direct ownership interest in the auditee or as a creditor as a general rule yet it appears a Federal judge is deemed to be impartial under the same circumstances.

    Isn’t sunshine wonderful.


  5. Laughing…. shaking head at the Rogues Gallery of names listed. I do somewhat respect Jay Zainey and to a certain extent Judge Lemmon, although she also left the reservation on certain hurricane issues.

    Of course it would be nice if the entire 5th Circuit recused itself….. from every case including the BP litigation.

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