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)|