Ut-oh, Judge Ginger “plans to visit River Birch lanfill office to resolve records dispute” (update: links reset)

Were the SLABBED-nation to elect a homecoming queen, I’m certain it wouldn’t be federal district judge Helen “Ginger” Berrigan – and, after reviewing her background, I’m equally certain she wouldn’t care.

… Judge Berrigan is the author of Louisiana Criminal Trial Practice…Prior to her appointment as a federal judge, she was a criminal defense attorney. She was a staff attorney to the Governor’s Pardon, Parole and Rehabilitation Commission and press secretary to Civil Rights Leader, Charles Evers…In addition to her experience as a journalist and lawyer, she has served on the boards or as a member of several legal organizations, including the…American Civil Liberties Union

Her expertise and experience in criminal law and her involvement in the Civil Rights movement and ACLU provide context for understanding her decisions in Heebe v USA, including the order scheduling her upcoming visit to the River Birch landfill office, reported in Richard Rainey’s story for the Times-Picayune:

District Judge Ginger Berrigan stated in a court Order that she plans to inspect the third floor of the building at 2000 Belle Chasse Highway in Gretna, where authorities collected reams of documents and computer files as part of their 14-month investigation of River Birch. She set the visit for Feb. 4. 

It’s not an action a federal judge takes often…

Her decision comes as the feud between River Birch and the U.S. attorney’s office escalates over the scope of the raid.

When I discovered Rainey’s story had no links to the documents he referenced, I went to PACER and found documents indicating “escalation” may be an understatement. (Docket )

On Dec. 21, Berrigan ordered the return of computer hard drives, files and 25 boxes of documents that had been taken from a half-dozen companies sharing the building’s third floor with River Birch. Those companies include Shadowlake Management, Live Oak Homes Corp., Fred Heebe Investments and Willow Inc. — affiliates of River Birch owners Fred Heebe and Jim Ward… (link added)

This month, however, River Birch asserted in a court petition that prosecutors haven’t complied with her order. Court documents say federal authorities have returned three or four boxes. (link added)

Meanwhile, prosecutors stated Tuesday in court papers that they complied with Berrigan’s order. (link added)

“Documents reviewed on the scene that were believed not to be related to the search warrant were not seized,” the government said. “Therefore, of the approximately 25 boxes of paper documents seized, most related solely to River Birch and were properly retained by the government.”

Prosecutors also said agents during the raid discovered “de facto contraband evidence” that “goes beyond what can be considered a traditional white collar investigation.”

It was unclear exactly what items authorities confiscated. Spokeswoman Kathy English said the U.S. attorney’s office wouldn’t comment, referring to a law that limits federal prosecutors from making public statements.

Rainey did an excellent job summarizing recent events; however, after the USA filed its response on Tuesday, team Hebee filed a response and memorandum in opposition later the same day. (link added)

What caused Judge Berrigan to take the unusual step of scheduling a visit to the River Birch office is anyone’s guess.  Here’s mine:

01/05/2011 29 **SEALED** Motion by USA to seal exhibit (plh, ) (Entered: 01/07/2011)

12 thoughts on “Ut-oh, Judge Ginger “plans to visit River Birch lanfill office to resolve records dispute” (update: links reset)”

  1. Of everything that has been written about River Birch by the Times Picayune of late, this is most signiifcant by far.

    If Judge Ginger had only put such effort into the post Katrina insurance cases that ended up on her docket……


  2. What cracks me up is that the “inspection” is announced to be on February 5. Wow, no wonder there is a “For Lease” sign in front of their offices. They probably have erected walls and moved furniture to give the place a whole new look. Gee, with all that money, they probably brought in an interior decorator. Judge Berrigan will gain nothing from this other than a lovely drive across the CCC.

  3. And my take on this is that Berrigan is setting up the Government for a FUCKING, as in “You’re in contempt of my Order to return the illegally-seized materials.” I hope I’m wrong about this, but I don’t think so. Remember, “Little” Fred Heebe is the son of Berrigan’s former mentor, “Big” Fred Heebe, who is a retired Eastern District Judge. Ashton O’Dwyer.

  4. Sop would that seal be about the”de facto contraband evidence”… Here we go again, just like in the Canal Brothel case….covering up evidence that could be personally embarrassing to the politically connected

  5. Iam: same page…I only hope the Feds at least took pictures of the layout as they seized. They’re probably just laying the trap for any construction modifications made.
    Tend to think the contraband is child porn from some private conversations recently with pretty reliable sources. We’ll see.

  6. Her lack of sympathy and complete failure to not only follow the law, but to issue opinions that were wholly contrary to well established law in Hurricane Katrina cases is mind-boggling.

    Of course, her husband at one time did a lot of State Farm work.

    How can such an ultra liberal, bust the government’s balls at each opportunity jurist be so accomodating to big insurance companies who threw their insureds steaming pile of dog crap instead of a life line following Katrina? My guess is she thinks the U.S. court system is designed only to protect its civil liberties, civil rights and personal freedom and not for disputes that concern money. Unfortunately, without money to re-build your life, what good are “civil liberties, civil rights and personal freedom”?

  7. This is interesting: “”””Prosecutors also said agents during the raid discovered “de facto contraband evidence” that “goes beyond what can be considered a traditional white collar investigation.” “””””


    I think this puts some doubt to the idea that the feds were playing a shell game and planned to let Heebe, Butler and their faux-subentities out. Clearly the feds have retained most of the paper material – according to the Birchers maybe 21-22 of 25 boxes.

    I also think it’s interesting the article says nothing of electronic material.


    Question: What does Berrigan hope to accomplish from this? Are they technically in different suites?

    What is she going to see there?

    Different secretaries? Different signs on different doors? Or different servers?

    Remember that the feds and the Birchers both attached pictures of the office index there, each claiming it proved either the singularity of the entities with each other or their distinction from each other, does she hope to make sense of that?

    Was old man Heebe trulu her mentor? If so he and Freddie Jr. may be much loved.

    I respect the civil rights background, but it’s hard to imagine a morality story more different from Medger Evers than this kkkrewe.

  8. Despite the freakin’ heat on the Birches their hollowhead puppet Capella in t/p today says he don’t want to spend extra money to set up a garbage hearing instead wants to piggy back the meeting to a council meeting=Translation= ‘I’m afraid an evening meeting will attract too many peeons with common sense questions I won’t answer; nor allow other councilpersons to answer.’

  9. Regarding her visit, Judge Berrigan’s Order states:

    “Counsel for both Plaintiffs and Defendant may be present during the visit, but may not discuss the case during the visit. (emphasis added)

    If counsel desire the Court to inspect anything in particular on the premises, they shall submit memoranda by January 28, 2011 specifying what should be inspected and why. ”

    Stay tuned! If anything is filed tomorrow, you’ll know it if you check SLABBED.

    PS: I’ve reset links that attached court documents to the post and disconnect the link to the USA’s sealed exhibit – when a document is sealed, a link will only take you to notice that “you do not have permission…”

  10. The “…may not discuss the case during the visit” is fairly “boilerplate” when a Judge decides to make an inspection of the premesis. This is so neither side can be accused of attempting to “influence” the Judge during the inspection since, in all probability, there will be no Court Reporter present. It would no doubt be problematical for a Court Reporter to transcribe things, since the entourage will be traveling to different floors and to different offices on the same floor, and standing rather than sitting most of the time.I still say that the Government had better “grease up” for what I believe is coming their way. Ashton O’Dwyer a/k/a “The WHITE Henry Glover”.

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