As I’ve gotten to know elements of the greater NOLA legal community I’ve come to appreciate the legacy on the plaintiff’s side of the bar of the late Wendell Gauthier, who was a litigator’s litigator. Simply put the man had a special talent in reading and reaching juries. In fairness, I’ve also heard the stories of the impact the man’s accumulated wealth had on elements of the local judiciary, especially at the zenith of his career with the tobacco litigation. As Gauthier died relatively young many of his contemporaries and former partners are still around as are an entire generation of younger lawyers that learned the art of the arguing a case from Gauthier in the years before he died.
Enter Gauthier’s successor, John Houghtaling aka Magnum J.D., who dealt with Gauthier at the very end of his career before his untimely passing. According to Magnum’s many detractors in the local legal community Houghtaling parlayed that brief association with the dying Gauthier to becoming his very young and aggressive successor. Lawyers that knew Wendell Gauthier for decades were then chopped en mass in favor of expensive sports cars and young women.
There is no such thing as a free lunch and making powerful enemies means one must make equally powerful friends so Magnum and his office became the defacto campaign manager for virtually every judge in Jefferson Parish (which is the reason we backed Ray Steib so vigorously earlier this year as he was Magnum free).
Just as with those party invites to the big money soirees for Bobby Jindal and Billy Nungesser I’ve received several party invites from readers for similar events for 24th Judicial district miscreants like wrinkled robe’s Ross LaDart, for example, with Magnum’s office and fax listed as the contact info. I imagine this gave GHW quite the leg up in certain local magic jurisdictions like the NOLA CDC where Magnum’s partner James Williams doubles as an ad hoc judge.
Throw in the fact that Magnum has most likely never argued a case himself before a jury and I think everyone then understands why I never had a shortage of tips regarding Magnum’s and his doings, even his epic August backyard bacchanal on the Avenue, which had been kept closely under wraps by both the authorities and witnesses.
Now if any of this is reminiscent of L’affaire Dickie Scruggs rest assured it is in how litigators and the legal community view those they see as poseurs comes into focus. Throw in the propensity for the ol’ Magnum fix and the toxic soup is complete.
So how could a large segment of the lawyers at Gauthier Houghtaling and Williams become so cross with their fearless leader, Magnum JD? Let us count the ways as they have been laid on the Slab for all to see:
- Magnum hung with Kevin Costner back during the spill, lining his own pockets forcing those useless oil water separators on BP costing the firm a chance to represent plaintiffs in the ensuing spill litigation. I think that is a biggie. Slabbed bonus coverage can be found here as we were seemingly the only media outlet not to be snookered back when out of the gate. As an aisde Val Bracy received word her contract would not be renewed not long after her reporting on that conflict of interest at GHW.
- Poor reputation of firm in the legal community destroyed morale of firm employees. This is especially true because by all accounts there is talent on staff at GHW. These folks knew how their firm was viewed by their peers.
- And what I think is the straw that broke the camel’s back, the late summer backyard bacchanal, which earned Magnum the ire of his sleep hungry neighbors on the Avenue. Once we broke that story I think he could no longer hide the self-destructive behavior. Ironically we’ve been sitting on past litigation involving Magnum’s former neighbors, one of whom was evidently moved to throw a hammer at Magnum’s speeding sports car as he evidently likes to rip thru the city streets doing warp 11.
Of course it will be those moved to comment that will better tell this tale than us at Slabbed. I have it on good authority the upcoming court date on November 16th related to the disturbing the peace charges may just have some shocking twists and revelations. By all accounts Magnum’s behavior is described as self-destructive and we wish him no ill will, but his perverted influence on the local court system must end if the people of greater New Orleans are to have any expectation of justice instead of just us.