Professor Bernofsky would like a word with the House Judiciary Committee…..

Late last week the T-P’s Bruce Alpert had a story on 2 local US Court nominees that described a virtual love-in for Stephen Higginson and Jane Triche-Milazzo for open spots on the 5th Circuit and LAED respectively. As fate would have it I met Jane Triche-Milazzo many years ago and was impressed by her and her family. To date I’ve heard very little criticism of Triche-Milazzo but Higginson is a different story as late last week I also disclosed our own Ashton O’Dwyer wrote the Senate Judiciary committee regarding Higginson, specifically his involvement in the travesty of justice/political prosecution of him, a topic we’ve covered since the very beginning of that part of the O’Dwyer Katrina saga. Higginson wrote the Team Letten appeal of Judge Walter’s dismissal of the bogus charges against him.

I do not know the behind the scenes politics involved that would cause Jim Letten to risk his rep abusing the powers of his office on some sort of personal vendetta against a broken, very troubled man but I suspect it contains an element of stupidity derived from being too close to the subject matter in question. Whatever the case others have also noticed and this story crossed over to the Times Picayune yesterday as the T-P featured Professor Carl Bernofsky’s remarks about Higginson and his involvement in the political prosecution of Ashton.  This story clearly hit a sore spot in certain prosecutorial circles as witnessed by the comments, which branded Professor Bernofsky as a nut case. My own thoughts after examining the injustice that was perpetrated on the good Professor by the interest conflicted Ginger Berrigan, a purported liberal jurist that never met an insurance company or murderer she failed to like, is that Carl is an eloquent and lucid advocate for judicial reform. And that fact is why Professor Bernofsky, his blog TulaneLink along with his advocacy on behalf of Team O’Dwyer has graced these pages in the past. Continue reading “Professor Bernofsky would like a word with the House Judiciary Committee…..”

5th Circuit plays Grinch to $21M Levee Board settlement UPATED

“It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes, or bags” – and, thus far, all that can be found is this brief mention in the Sun Herald.

A federal appeals court has rejected a $21 million settlement of Hurricane Katrina damage claims that some plaintiffs had complained was unfair.

U.S. District Judge Stanwood Duval Jr. in New Orleans approved last year’s settlement of class-action lawsuits against three Louisiana levee boards and their insurer.

But a three-judge panel from the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Thursday that the settlement isn’t fair because its proponents failed to show plaintiffs would benefit.

The Times Picayune, on the other hand,  is running $2.9 billion plan restores MR-GO’s environmental damage.  A coincidence, maybe?

The Army Corps of Engineers has unveiled a sweeping $2.9 billion plan to restore the environmental damage caused by the construction and operation of the now-closed Mississippi River-Gulf Outlet, which includes a new freshwater diversion near Violet; restoration of cypress swamp in wetlands adjacent to the Lower 9th Ward, Algiers and Chalmette; protection of shorelines along the eastern New Orleans land bridge; and restoration or nourishment of wetlands along Lake Borgne.

Ashton, is that you I hear saying, “I told you so!”?

UPDATE:  As of mid-morning (naturally, after I checked), the  TP is running Appeals court rejects $21 million Hurricane Katrina settlement
:

Joseph Bruno, one of the lawyers who helped broker the settlement, expressed confidence that the deal can be reworked to satisfy the 5th Circuit’s objections.

“We are absolutely going back to the drawing board,” he said. “The only alternative is to give the money back to the insurance company and let them keep it. What’s the benefit of that?”

Scruggs: the movie – Wow! northern MS just-us justice up on the big screen!

NEMS360 reports, “Longtime Hollywood insider Sam Haskell….has bought the television and film rights to Curtis Wilkie’s book, “The Fall of the House of Zeus”.

The project, said Haskell publicist Nathan Wells, “has the potential to spur a TV-film industry along in Mississippi, which has been one of Haskell’s goals since returning to Mississippi full time.”

“But for both Wilkie and Haskell, the book and the prospective movie also mean a chance to tell parts of the story that most press accounts could not…The story “has to be about redemption,” he added. “We all make mistakes; this was in the public eye in a way that created a perfect storm for misunderstanding.”

Redemption. Mistakes. Perfect storm for misunderstanding – ohdeargod, those words didn’t sit well with north Mississippi’s black- cloud just-us justice crowd.  Late afternoon, however, Zach Scruggs rained on their parade – and redemption, mistakes, misunderstanding took on a different meaning.

“You know Lackey much better than I, but I don’t believe he was taken aback one whit. If anything, I think he expected Balducci’s Of Counsel “assurances.” Look at the other judges and officers who signed on before Lackey … he didn’t want to be excluded.”

However, the really different meaning to Judge Lackey’s role comes when it’s viewed in light of the Government’s lack of jurisdiction to make a federal case out of the state judges’ position – meaning the Government had no “color of official right” to lend to Lackey.  It was this “color” that made a bribe of what otherwise have been Lackey’s extortion of money from Scruggs.  Without jurisdiction, the government was not just without “color” to lend Lackey, it was also without the authority to obtain a wire tap order and Judge Biggers without the authority to issue same –  and, folks, this “really different meaning” is going to make a great movie! Continue reading “Scruggs: the movie – Wow! northern MS just-us justice up on the big screen!”

Catching up on the ironing – Operation Wrinkled Robe and the Impeachment of Judge Thomas Porteous

The “good news” is Sop “saved the day” – actually, he “saved” and published my “Say not” post after my computer locked yesterday.  The “bad news” is that my post was missing a link – literally and figuratively!

“Missing links”  appear to be the hallmark of the impeachable conduct of Judge Thomas Porteous –  many, no doubt,  hidden beneath the wrinkles in his robe .

In the interest of “catching up on the ironing”, I’ll first set up the board; i.e., a chronology of events relative to the impeachment charges against Porteous:

He was a judge on the 24th Judicial District Court of Louisiana from 1984 to 1994…nominated by President Bill Clinton to a seat on the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana… and confirmed by the United States Senate on October 7, 1994… In 2001, Porteous filed for bankruptcy, which led to revelations in the press about his private life, specifically the fact that he was alleged to have had close ties with local bail bond magnate Louis Marcotte III, at the center of a corruption probe, which has more recently led to his being the subject of investigation himself by federal investigators. In May 2006, Porteous, beset by the recent loss of his home due to Hurricane Katrina in August 2005 and the death of his wife a few months later, and still under investigation by a federal grand jury, was granted temporary medical leave and began a year-long furlough from the federal bench.

“On June 18, 2008 the Judicial Conference of the United States transmitted a certificate[8] to the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives expressing the Conference’s determination that consideration of impeachment of Porteous might be warranted” and, on March 11, 2010, the House passed a four-article Resolution of Impeachment.

The outrage over Porteous’ current effort to “game the system”, defeat the impeachment charges and return to the bench is due in part to his past success in “gaming the system” as stated in Continue reading “Catching up on the ironing – Operation Wrinkled Robe and the Impeachment of Judge Thomas Porteous”

“No matter how long we’ve been together Edith, you still, as the kids say, ‘turn me over’.” Ashton O’Dwyer files for rehearing at 5th Circuit.

We have some new documents in the ongoing saga of Ashton O’Dwyer v the local federal court system and a quick update on the criminal case. Let’s tackle the appeal of the dismissal of his Judicial misconduct complaint by quoting from a recent email Ashton sent to the 5th Circuit:

I recall getting very “angry” at St. Amant’s letter of 7/02/09, because:(1) I aver, upon information and belief, that St. Amant is an “enabler” and co-conspirator with Dennis, and is as culpable as Dennis or any of the other judges in connection with the dismissal of Case No.08-30052; (2) I thought that St. Amant was “setting me up for a fall”, which unfortunately became reality, when Chief Judge Jones dismissed my Complaints summarily, without even reading my Complaints, much less considering my exhibits; and (3) St. Amant’s letter indicated to me that the Chief Judge (no doubt with St.Amant) was not even reading my quite detailed Complaints of Judicial Misconduct of: (a) 4/14/09, 4/16/09 and 4/27/09, which meticulously detailed with precision: (i) Continue reading ““No matter how long we’ve been together Edith, you still, as the kids say, ‘turn me over’.” Ashton O’Dwyer files for rehearing at 5th Circuit.”

Jim Brown hits one out of the Park: Edith Jones and other ultra conservative ideologues tarnish the reputation of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Baton Rouge, Louisiana

A SUPREME COURT APPOINTEE FROM LOUISIANA?

FAT CHANCE!

Before the President made his choice this week for a new nominee to fill the coming vacancy on the United States Supreme Court, the White House undertook a nationwide search. There were parameters. The pick was certain to be a woman. But by even the widest stretch of standards to be met by any nominee, one thing was pretty clear from the start. No judge serving on the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans was given the slightest consideration.

It’s true that the Fifth Circuit is heavy laden with Republican appointees. But that has not been a major stumbling block for the new President so far. His most recent major appointment, the new Ambassador to China, went to Republican Governor John Huntsman, who had set up an exploratory committee to run against President Obama in 2012. And the final choice made on Tuesday of this week, Court of Appeals Judge Sonia Sotomayor, was initially appointed to the federal bench by President George H. W. Bush.

Being a federal court of appeals judge has become almost a prerequisite to ascending up to the Supreme Court. Every present judge on the Court was elevated from the federal court of appeals system. So one would think the three women on the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, all from either Louisiana or Texas, would have been given a perusal review. No way, say the close court watchers. Their qualifications or lack thereof, speak for themselves.

The chief judge is one Edith Jones, who received international notoriety a few years back when she ruled that a fellow named Calvin Burdine, convicted of murder and sentenced to death row, received a fair trial even though his court appointed lawyer slept through a good bit of the trial. A sleeping attorney didn’t’ seem to bother Jones, who wrote in upholding the conviction that “we cannot determine whether the defense counsel slept during a critical stage of Burdine’s trial.” So, according to Jones, it’s OK to nap a bit during a trial if you are representing a defendant who could be (and in this case was) given the death penalty. Just pick and choose when you doze off. Continue reading “Jim Brown hits one out of the Park: Edith Jones and other ultra conservative ideologues tarnish the reputation of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals”

Becky Mowbray Profiles Recent Policyholder Court Wins in the Times Picayune

And of course such a profile had to include extensive quotes from Rick Trahant who needs no introduction here at Slabbed and Soren Gisleson whom Nowdy has had the opportunity to chat with via email. Louisiana Insurance Commish Jim Donelon throws a wet blanket on the Ike theory but then again Rick isn’t on Mr. Donelon’s Christmas list in any event. Here is the profile:

After siding with insurance companies in early rulings after Hurricane Katrina, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal has suddenly cranked out a stream of policyholder-friendly rulings in hurricane cases.

In recent weeks, the region’s federal appellate court has affirmed an award in favor of a homeowner, overturned a decision in favor of an insurer, said that homeowners can collect mental anguish damages when insurers don’t pay, and revived a whistle-blower lawsuit alleging that insurers ripped off the government in paying flood claims.

The apparent change of heart has left many giddy plaintiff attorneys wondering whether the Texas judges involved in the favorable decisions have been moved by the experience of Hurricane Ike slamming their home state.

“Now, going to work, they see all the damage a Category 1 windstorm did to downtown Houston,” Rick Trahant said. “I think, as people, they can’t help but to be affected by what they’ve seen in their own state in Texas.” Continue reading “Becky Mowbray Profiles Recent Policyholder Court Wins in the Times Picayune”

BREAKING! 5th Circuit issues Order, Substitute Opinion in Dickerson v Lexington (AIG)

Amici or not, No member of the panel nor judge in regular active service1 of the court having requested that the court be polled on Rehearing En Banc (FED. R. APP. P. and 5TH CIR. R. 35),the Petition for Rehearing En Banc is DENIED, according to the Order issued by the 5th Circuit in Dickerson v Lexington (AIG).

Treating the Petition for Rehearing En Banc as a Petition for Panel Rehearing, the Petition for Panel Rehearing is GRANTED, the opinion of the court filed December 22, 20082 is WITHDRAWN, and the revised panel opinion filed herewith is SUBSTITUTED…

When the 5th Circuit judges focus on law and not the science of hurricane damage, the difference in their Opinions is like night and day – and a new day dawned for Burden of Proof in the substitute opinion in Dickerson v Lexington (AIG). Continue reading “BREAKING! 5th Circuit issues Order, Substitute Opinion in Dickerson v Lexington (AIG)”