As the country watched in horror as the Katrina Who Dat Judge Martin Feldman violated basic judicial ethics by presiding over a case where he had a clear conflict of interest Slabbed was already getting background from our legal team on the chances of Feldman’s tainted decision being reversed at the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. Needless to say I suspect the financial disclosure forms of the 3 Judge panel at the 5th circuit has received quite the workout lately in light of what we dug up on the Who Dat Judge but rest assured this panel is not conflicted except possible by proximity to the scene of the crime. Before I chip in some analysis let’s visit with Becky who does a good job on this story:
Three judges from the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will hear arguments Thursday on the federal government’s request to keep the deepwater drilling moratorium in place while it appeals a lower court decision overturning the ban. …………
Curiously, the government hasn’t requested that the appeal of Feldman’s June 22 moratorium decision be heard on an expedited basis. The government’s appeal brief is due Aug. 9; Hornbeck Offshore Services Inc., the marine services company that is the lead plaintiff in the case, will have a few weeks to reply, and the oral arguments have yet to be scheduled.
Blaine LeCesne, a civil procedure professor at Loyola Law School who has been following the case, said that the government may be seeking to use the slow appeals process to its advantage because it knows that energy companies are unlikely to resume prospecting for oil in the Gulf while they run the risk that they could be shut down again. “They can accomplish a de facto moratorium by dragging out the process,” LeCesne said.
LeCesne said that the court could decide on its own to hear the full appeal on an expedited basis because an important public policy is at stake, or Hornbeck could request fast-track consideration.
This brings up an important point that it doesn’t matter much what the courts say about this moratorium, which is clearly within the regulatory purview of the Department of the Interior. You see by time the appeals process is exhausted 6 months could easily pass and even if it doesn’t Team Obama is going to issue another moratorium perhaps preemptively suing in Florida where the oil industry does not own the courts or politicians.
Permitting can also be a bitch, especially now that the free pass the industry has received on important environmental steps has been revoked along with the acceptance of cookie cutter applications which maintain Walruses exist in the Gulf of Mexico. The courts in reality are feckless in this matter and Hornbeck, a company with a long list of safety violations in its own right, is not making many friends up in DC these days pursuing this ill-advised lawsuit.
Becky does a good job breaking down the high points of the legal briefs that have been filed and the balance of her story is well worth the read. She ends it with a blurb on the panel assigned to hear the case that bears mentioning here:
The case will be heard by a panel of three judges: Judge W. Eugene Davis of Lafayette, who was appointed by President Ronald Reagan in 1983; Judge Jerry Edwin Smith of Houston, a Reagan appointee in 1987; and Judge James L. Dennis of New Orleans, who was appointed in 1995 by President Bill Clinton.
And this brings us to our prediction on the outcome of this case at the 5th Circuit. First off Feldman’s blatant conflict of interest will be white washed as this bunch takes care of its own though we are working on a specimen judicial misconduct complaint for those members of the Slabbed Nation that wish to download and file a complaint about Feldman and his conflict of interest. Without going into the personal habits of the judges on the case we’re predicting the panel will back Feldman and his curious reasoning 2-1 which means it will be off to the Supreme Court.
Meantime we’ll await the inevitable blowback on this from the White House which is certainly not happy with the lack of cooperation it is receiving from the oil industry in the aftermath of the poisoning of the Gulf of Mexico.