Did Dick do it? Slabbed examines the case of Turner v Pleasant, Dick Chopin and Tom Porteous.

With a hat tip to a Slabbed reader I was sent a link to a new twist on an old case, Turner v Pleasant that was presided over by impeached (but not yet convicted) LAED Judge Tom Porteous. I hope the Slabbed Nation joins me in welcoming lawyer Dick Chopin here as we begin with a story by Michelle Massey at the Louisiana Record.

A Louisiana couple is asking a federal court to overturn a previous judgment, claiming the presiding judge acted improperly because of his relationship with defense counsel and a witness.

Ada D. Turner and Ronnie Turner filed suit against Neal E. Pleasant, RPIA of Delaware, Neal E. Pleasant Living Trust, The Travelers Insurance Co. and Standard Fire Insurance Co. June 25 in federal court in New Orleans.

The case was previously tried before New Orleans federal Judge G. Thomas Porteous, Jr. without a jury in April 2003.

Porteous was impeached by the U.S. House of Representatives in March on corruption charges. He is accused of accepting bribes from lawyers, lying to the Senate and FBI during his confirmation hearings and committing perjury during his bankruptcy hearings…..

The petitioners say the previous trial improperly exploited a personal relationship between the judge and defense counsel and a personal relationship between the district judge and a witness for the purpose of obtaining “discriminatory and favorable treatment in the litigation.”

The Turners say Porteous compromised the integrity of the judicial process by “concealing the said relationship when disclosure thereof was expressly called for and required by law” and “improperly preventing full and fair litigation of all issues germane to Plaintiff’s case.”

I am a curious soul so I pulled the case up on PACER and found there were only two defense lawyers to google up in Dick Chopin and Michael Turner as both are listed as appearing before Porteous pre-trial and at the actual bench trial the next day where Porteous home cooked the Turners. So which one turned up in my google? Dick Chopin that’s who as his name appeared in the House Committee report which accompanied the articles of impeachment of Porteous. I quote from page 126 of that report:

Attorney Richard Chopin was a friend of Judge Porteous for years. They first met when they taught trial advocacy at Louisiana State University Law School. 586 They were perceived by others to be friends. Chopin wrote a letter to Second Circuit Judge Ralph Winter, dated March 28, 2008, supportive of Judge Porteous, in which Chopin described Judge Porteous as an ‘‘outstanding judge’’ and among “‘one of finest judges before whom I have ever appeared.” He stated he had never ‘”heard, seen or experienced any impropriety in Judge Porteous’[s] conduct” and characterized the allegations against Judge Porteous as having the appearance of a ‘‘witch hunt.’’ Letter from Richard A. Chopin, Esq., to Hon. Ralph K. Winter, March 28, 2008 Chopin Dep. Ex. 58 (Ex. 258).

Chopin testified that he took Judge Porteous out to lunch, but he stated that Judge Porteous reciprocated. Chopin also testified that Judge Porteous would have used a credit card to charge meals at expensive restaurants in the period subsequent to Judge Porteous filing for bankruptcy and when Judge Porteous was under court-ordered restrictions from incurring new debt.

Diamond Offshore (‘‘Diamond’’) is an oil rig company with headquarters in Houston, Texas, that has been sued on occasion as a result of injuries to others or damage to property that occurs in the operation of Diamond’s rigs. If the injuries or damages occurred in the Gulf of Mexico, the civil suits were frequently brought in the Eastern District of Louisiana, and would occasionally be assigned to Judge Porteous. Chopin was frequently retained by Diamond to defend the company in litigation.

Diamond owned or leased a hunting property in Texas that it used for entertainment purposes. In the late 1990’s, Diamond arranged a hunting trip for attorneys and others in the claims management part of the business. Chopin was invited, and, according to a Diamond employee who had some responsibility for the trips, Chopin, in turn, recommended that Diamond invite Judge Porteous.

The documentary evidence confirms that Diamond perceived Chopin to be associated with Judge Porteous in connection with these trips. In connection with Judge Porteous’s attendance on the 2001 trip, the communications from Diamond to Judge Porteous concerning that trip stated that Judge Porteous could provide his information to Chopin and that Chopin would act as an intermediary.

Judge Porteous went on six Diamond-sponsored hunting trips. These occurred in early January in 2000, 2001, 2003, 2005, 2006, and 2007. In each of these 6 years, Chopin was also present. Diamond documents reflect that Judge Porteous and Chopin shared a room on at least the 2005 and 2006 trips.

In connection with the hunting trips, Diamond paid all of Judge Porteous’s expenses. Diamond flew Judge Porteous, Chopin and others from New Orleans to the hunting facility in Texas. It provided air transportation (including by private aircraft), meals, lodging, and an open bar, and paid for hunting licenses if necessary. If the guest shot a deer, the deer would be cleaned and butchered, and the processed meat sent to the guest.  The only expense a guest was required to cover was the cost of mounting a deer head if this service was requested.

The really good stuff on Turner v Pleasant starts on page 132.  Porteous and Chopin were busted by the Turner’s lawyer and yet Porteous brazenly refused to recuse himself.

Witch hunt or dirty lawyers doing the pay to play thing with dirty judges? Even Jonathan Turley can’t wipe the mookie stink off the pieces of shit that are Tom Porteous and Dick Chopin. Slabbed reports you decide.

sop

12 thoughts on “Did Dick do it? Slabbed examines the case of Turner v Pleasant, Dick Chopin and Tom Porteous.”

  1. This case with the hunting trip facts went to the 5th Circuit which kicked the appeal calling the allegations of the now verified hunting trips unsubstantiated. So much for the appeals court doing its job huh? Perhaps now our readers understand why we think Martin Feldman’s misconduct will be swept under the rug in Hornbeck.

    sop

  2. Chopin’s prior law firm regularly took Porteous on dove hunting trips to south Texas and Mexico. Was that disclosed too? Nah, why bother. Chopin’s wife, “Judge Dee, was Judge Martha Sassone’s long time clerk and just as reprehensible.

  3. What is so exasperating for me as a disbarred, disgraced, embarrassed and humiliated lawyer by education is the fact that (and I stand to be corrected) the House Judiciary Committee didn’t include Turner v. Pleasant in the Articles of Impeachment which it referred to the Senate for trial. The shennenigans in Turner v. Pleasant should have been “enough” to have Porteous “dis-robed” and deprived of his pension. And that’s just ONE of the cases we know of (and of course Liljeberg and Farrar – what the hell “happened” to Farrar?). I won’t mention any individual or corporate names, but Turner v. Pleasant was but one small part of a well-orchestrated CONSPIRACY to corruptly influence a Federal Judge. The Judge’s head is now on the chopping block. But what’s going to stop the co-conspirators from attempting to use their influence “elsewhere”, maybe not with a Judge who has an alcohol or gambling problem, but one who is a womanizer (were they shooting “brown-breasted mattress thrashers” on any of those “hunting trips”?), or who likes “funny cigarettes”, or little boys? And can any of you actually believe after reading the House Judiciary Committee Report which SOP has made available to us that Chief Judge Edith Jones of the Fifth “Circus” initially recommended “a written reprimand” for Porteous’ misconduct? I will repeat: The Federal Judicial System is CROOKED and is not likely to really change without ” a street sweeper”. Ashton O’Dwyer.

  4. Great point Ashton. Analogous to the contractors who bribe elected politicos at the local and other levels. Seldom do we see appropriate charges leveled in that deserving direction — Mr. Davezac in the Hubble case being the lone exception that comes to mind.

  5. What if Hubbard’s extortion case was to remain isolated, with no intention that Whitmer’s dealings with him were to be made public. Having it set in Zainey’s ( a Coulon ally to the core ! ) court, Letten could be assured control of the plea and the sentencing. That would be the end of it, no need to extend the investigation into Jefferson Parish.

    But then, someone(s) from within for some reason droped a nickel. What Hubbard and Whitmer had put into play was exposose of corruption so pervasive that Federal Officials, Senators and Congressmen would be at risk of reputatations and political office once the public learned of the massive amounts of monies, literally hundreds of millions, that were expended on Katrina mostly unaccounted for.

    How to contain the investigation ? How to protect a corrupt Federal Judiciary ? Why is this conspiracy of silence so deafening ?

    Je vous le dis, c’est foutu !

    Pelican is on his way back from downtown so we can sip a few Rebel Yell’s and revisit the House Judiciary transcript of the Porteous Impeachment proceedings, especially those jewels in the footnotes. Where is that new bottle ?

  6. Sop, deBrief and I talked this over, and we felt that excerpts from the Committee on the Judiciary’s REPORT on the Impeachment of G. Thomas Porteous, Jr. would not only be a good read but add background to Dick Chopin’s insidious, abhorrent, detestable, execrable, loathsome, offensive, repulsive, abomniable, despicable, revolting conduct as a member of the bar. Need we say more !

    What’s most insulting, and at the same time descriptive of Chopin’s overall profligate conduct is this quote fom Footnote 590, page 127, “Chopin did not deny he was the impetus to Diamond’s inviting Judge Porteous, BUT TESTIFIED THAT HE DID NOT REMEMBER DOING THAT. Chopin Dep. 19-20 (Ex. 182).

    It’s the footnotes, it’s all in the footnotes…

    Starting on page 126, et seq :

    D. JUDGE PORTEOUS’S RELATIONSHIP WITH RICHARD CHOPIN AND ACCEPTANCE OF HUNTING TRIPS FROM DIAMOND OFFSHORE

    1. Attorney Richard Chopin

    Attorney Richard Chopin was a friend of Judge Porteous for years. They first met when they taught trial advocacy at Louisiana State University Law School. 586

    [Footnote] They were perceived by others to be friends. 587

    [Footnote]

    [Footnote 586: Chopin Dep. at 17-18 (Ex. 182).]

    [Footnote 587: Levenson Dep. at 28-29 (identifying Chopin as an attorney who took Judge Porteous to lunch) (Ex. 30); Gardner Dep. at 38 (identifying Judge Porteous and Chopin as friends) (Ex. 36). See also Baynham Dep. at 19 (`My understanding was that they had been friends for a long time.’) (Ex. 158); Danos Dep. I at 23 (Porteous and Chopin became friends when Porteous was a State judge) (Ex. 46); Danos Dep. I at 68 (Chopin was one of the attorneys who took Judge Porteous to lunch on occasion) (Ex. 46).]

    Chopin wrote a letter to Second Circuit Judge Ralph Winter, dated March 28, 2008, supportive of Judge Porteous, in which Chopin described Judge Porteous as an `outstanding judge’ and among `one of finest judges before whom I have ever appeared.’ He stated he had never `heard, seen or experienced any impropriety in Judge Porteous'[s] conduct’ and characterized the allegations against Judge Porteous as having the appearance of a `witch hunt.’ Letter from Richard A. Chopin, Esq., to Hon. Ralph K. Winter, March 28, 2008 Chopin Dep. Ex. 58 (Ex. 258). Chopin also solicited other attorneys to write letters in support of Judge Porteous. Chopin Dep. at 70-71 (Ex. 182); Chopin Dep. Ex. 59 (Ex. 259).

    Chopin testified that he took Judge Porteous out to lunch, but he stated that Judge Porteous reciprocated. 588

    [Footnote] Chopin also testified that Judge Porteous would have used a credit card to charge meals at expensive restaurants in the period subsequent to Judge Porteous filing for bankruptcy and when Judge Porteous was under court-ordered restrictions from incurring new debt. 589

    [Footnote]

    [Footnote 588: Chopin claimed he and Judge Porteous split the costs of meals. Chopin is the only attorney interviewed who has stated that Judge Porteous paid for more than a small fraction of the meals. Chopin Dep. at 56-57, 65 (Ex. 182).]

    [Footnote 589: Chopin Dep. at 64-66 (`I’m going to assume [Judge Porteous] charge[d], but it could have been, you know, where we were just getting a sandwich and paid cash. But certainly he’s charged them.’) (Ex. 182). Chopin’s representation that Judge Porteous paid for meals with him by credit card is not corroborated by any of Judge Porteous’s credit card records in the Committee’s possession.]

    2. Diamond Offshore

    Diamond Offshore (`Diamond’) is an oil rig company with headquarters in Houston, Texas, that has been sued on occasion as a result of injuries to others or damage to property that occurs in the operation of Diamond’s rigs. If the injuries or damages occurred in the Gulf of Mexico, the civil suits were frequently brought in the Eastern District of Louisiana, and would occasionally be assigned to Judge Porteous. Chopin was frequently retained by Diamond to defend the company in litigation.

    3. 2000-2007–Judge Porteous Accepts Six Hunting Trips From Diamond

    Diamond owned or leased a hunting property in Texas that it used for entertainment purposes. In the late 1990’s, Diamond arranged a hunting trip for attorneys and others in the claims management part of the business. Chopin was invited, and, according to a Diamond employee who had some responsibility for the trips, Chopin, in turn, recommended that Diamond invite Judge Porteous. 590

    [Footnote]

    [Footnote 590: Chopin did not deny that he was the impetus to Diamond’s inviting Judge Porteous, but testified that he did not remember doing that. Chopin Dep. 19-20 (Ex. 182).]

    The documentary evidence confirms that Diamond perceived Chopin to be associated with Judge Porteous in connection with these trips. In connection with Judge Porteous’s attendance on the 2001 trip, the communications from Diamond to Judge Porteous concerning that trip stated that Judge Porteous could provide his information to Chopin and that Chopin would act as an intermediary. 591

    [Footnote]

    [Footnote 591: Chopin Dep. at 21-22 (Ex. 182); Chopin Dep. Ex. 51 (Ex. 251). As late as November 15, 2006, Chopin was still involved in inviting Judge Porteous on these hunting trips. In an email to Diamond’s General Counsel, Chopin wrote: `. . . I had lunch with Judge Porteous yesterday and he asked if I heard anything about the hunt. . . . I know he would be thrilled to be invited again. . . .’ Diamond Documents at D0075 (Ex. 177).]

    Judge Porteous went on six Diamond-sponsored hunting trips. These occurred in early January in 2000, 2001, 2003, 2005, 2006, and 2007. In each of these 6 years, Chopin was also present. Diamond documents reflect that Judge Porteous and Chopin shared a room on at least the 2005 and 2006 trips. 592

    [Footnote]

    [Footnote 592: Porteous did not disclose the 2000, 2001 and 2003 Diamond hunting trips in his financial disclosure reports. He did disclose the hunting trips as gifts in his 2005, 2006 and 2007 his financial disclosure reports. See Exs. 106(a), 107(a), 109(a), 111(a), 112(a) and 113. By 2006, Judge Porteous knew he was under a criminal investigation.]

    In connection with the hunting trips, Diamond paid all of Judge Porteous’s expenses. Diamond flew Judge Porteous, Chopin and others from New Orleans to the hunting facility in Texas. It provided air transportation (including by private aircraft), meals, lodging, and an open bar, and paid for hunting licenses if necessary. If the guest shot a deer, the deer would be cleaned and butchered, and the processed meat sent to the guest. 593

    [Footnote] The only expense a guest was required to cover was the cost of mounting a deer head if this service was requested.

    [Footnote 593: Bradley Dep. at 27-28 (Ex. 181).]

    4. Specific Cases Assigned to Judge Porteous Involving Diamond and/or Chopin

    Notwithstanding the fact that Judge Porteous had started in January 2000 to attend all-expense-paid, high-end hunting trips sponsored by Diamond, he continued to preside over litigation in which Diamond was a named defendant, without disclosing his receipt of Diamond trips. 594

    [Footnote]

    [Footnote 594: All the Diamond cases assigned to Judge Porteous either settled or were reassigned, so unlike the Liljeberg case, Judge Porteous had only limited opportunities to issue dispositive rulings in those cases. Thus, no particular ruling by Judge Porteous has been subject to judicial scrutiny in his handling of the Diamond cases.]

    The Diamond cases in front of Judge Porteous (since he first started attending the Diamond hunting trips) include:

  7. Ok Sop I know we’ve probably have been ‘yellin’ a bit too much; but myself, deBrief, Maltilde and Placide have voted to post the transcript from the REPORT as it relates to the “TYPE” of memory Leonard Cline while UNDER OATH professes to have. You would agree a must read.

    This has to be the Louisiana Bar’s bottom out. This is it, bar none (pun intended) !

    IMMANGRY, in recognition of your posting from LIAR, LIAR.

    We begin on page 122:

    PORTEOUS AS A STATE COURT JUDGE

    Judge Porteous’s acceptance of other things of value from attorneys and parties, both as a State court judge and as a Federal judge, is relevant to his intent and to address a contention that the conduct discussed in Articles I and II constitute nothing more than a misinterpretation of Judge Porteous’s friendship and his motives in relation to a few attorneys and the Marcottes.

    Attorney Leonard Cline was a plaintiff’s attorney who, in the late 1980’s, had at least three cases in front of Judge Porteous for which Judge Porteous awarded his clients large verdicts. In the mid-1990’s, an attorney sued Cline, alleging, in substance, that Cline owed him a portion of the fees from one of the cases. In connection with that suit, Cline’s secretary, Sharon Konnerup, gave a sworn statement in which she testified that Cline and Judge Porteous were friends, that Cline had given Judge Porteous a unique firearm which she had actually seen, and that Cline also paid for a cruise for Judge Porteous. Her testimony as to the firearm was as follows:

    Q.

  8. Dear Mr. Charles Plattsmier,
    Chief Counsel Disciplinary Board
    Louisiana Bar Association

    As you should know by now, deBrief has seen you in the House Committee Room in DC, with you head up your ass for some time now. Had you bothered to read either or both the House REPORT and/or the Testimony of the Impeachment Proceedings of Tom Porteous, you would have been obligated to move for disbarment proceedings against Chopin, Cline, Levinson, Mole and a host of others.

    By the way Plattsmier, this is perjury on the papers, ce qui la baise else do you need?

    Page 126, REPORT:

    “Chopin wrote a letter to Second Circuit Judge Ralph Winter, dated March 28, 2008, supportive of Judge Porteous, in which Chopin described Judge Porteous as an `outstanding judge

  9. With attorneys like Chopin, Mole and Plattsmeier ( oh and Clem Donelon of Jefferson Parish ,Simon versus Kerlec infamy, it is no wonder attorneys are so universally despised.

    Keep connecting the dots, Whitmergate. We’ll draw the conclusions.

  10. Cline had a detailed memory of the facts of the Tracy v. Jefferson Parish case that took place in the late 1980’s

    This only touches on the inside problem with this case. Jake Amato was also involved. The fix was in from the start. Perhaps Sop has insite to the case

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