Calhoun again under siege

Special master in Bayou Corne sinkhole settlement admits he served as attorney for plaintiffs’ counsel; Impartiality called into question ~ Kyle Barnett

Some Bayou Corne settlement recipients raise concerns about their legal representation ~ David Mitchell

Slabbed has good bit in archives on the subject but of late it has been Jason that has been tearing it up.

The Good Ole’ Boys ~ Jason Berry

There really is a method to the madness….

I hope everyone enjoyed Halloween.  I have less time than yesterday to post but all hell is breaking loose on several fronts. (h/t to several readers and commenters.)

The method to the madness is called building a critter called institutional memory. It comes in handy on days like today.  Here are some salient links:

A dispatch from ghouls of Halloween past ~ Jason Berry

Jason has been covering the Wisner Foundation and the MDL OIl Spill litigation for quite some time now. Seeing the intersections between those topics and a certain class action lawyer whose name has showed up frequently on these pages is most gratifying. Speaking of that clique:

Gusman ends controversial flat-rate contract with firm ~ Claire Galofaro

And from the whistleblower retaliation files Sheriff Gusman remains stuck on stupid…..

Orleans Parish Prison whistleblower who helped expose problems fears for his job ~ Naomi Martin

Meantime the jackassery on the Jefferson Parish Council is hitting full tilt with the gang deciding the voters really do need to have a say so on this hospital deal: Continue reading “There really is a method to the madness….”

Let’s continue to build the case: Slabbed takes a second look back at USA v Sibley as we make more connections

Last month Slabbed reintroduced William “Hugh” Sibley to the reading public and the response that post received has been fantastic. In fact it was a media inquiry that I received today that serves as the catalyst for this post.  To get started though I want to make sure everyone is on the same page so here is an except from my Sibley reintroduction:

So why do I bring up news Slabbed covered in 2009? Sweet serendipity that’s why. Sources familiar with the Sibley’s law practice indicate to Slabbed that while Sibley was Fayard’s political go to guy, Nipun “Nick” Desai was Sibley’s right hand man. Desai, a one time college exchange student from East India that graduated from LSU in 1996, reportedly parlayed the association with Sibley into a real estate empire that stretches across Louisiana and includes the now fabled Super 8 Motel on Clearview Parkway.

This is important because Desai is a bit of a mystery man.  You see folks multiple sources have indicated to Slabbed that Desai was arrested on a cocaine distribution charge somewhere between 2008 and 2010 yet we’ve been unable to uncover anything on the arrest or the case itself as it does not show in the Federal Court Database PACER nor is there a Louisiana state record that we can find.  Desai is a big mystery but we solved some of it here.

Tackling this topic entails a bit of a gut check folks, given the people and organizations involved in the Sibley affair.  For instance, the lead defendant in the Sibley prosecution was Gustavo Jorge Arévalo Kessler.  Here is a snippet from the Hispanic News Network Blog that mentions Kessler:

Last Wednesday, Jorge Gustavo Arévalo Kessler, 43, was extradited to the U.S. from Mexico to face money laundering, and cocaine trafficing federal charges in Texas. Kessler originally from Heidelberg, Germany, but living in Mexico transported tons of cocaine from Venezuela, Colombia, Mexico and eventually ending up in the U.S.

The indictment states, Kessler between Dec. 2002 to June 2003 transported tons of cocaine by private plane and a Boeing 727, transported cash abroad, and as a high ranking member of a Mexican drug cartel, he directed where the money would be deposited to various bank accounts.

Kessler was arrested by Mexican federal authorities on April 7, 2008 in Mexico City. He worked for the criminal organization headed by Antonio Aguilar (real name Pedro Antonio Bermúdez Suazo), aka “El Arquitecto,” or “El Jefe” in Mexico.

Kessler was extradited to the U.S. on Feb. 24, 2010 by the law enforcement coordination efforts between the U.S. Marshals Service, the Ministry Federal Police, and Mexican INTERPOL with the Attorney’s General Office (PGR).

Kessler is not just your average drug kingpin though as this translated excerpt from the website Contra Linea indicates:

In his ministerial statement, Gustavo Jorge Arévalo Kessler, 43-year-old native of Heidelberg, Germany, son of Jorge Arevalo Gardoqui, who in turn was the brother of former Secretary of National Defense Juan Arevalo Gardoqui-, confessed to participating in moving drugs from South America to Mexico, and to carry cash abroad.

Or even better as put in an email I received today: Continue reading “Let’s continue to build the case: Slabbed takes a second look back at USA v Sibley as we make more connections” gets reaction from Attorney Joe Bruno on the 5th Circuit tossing Katrina Canal Breaches: “This is politics, not law.”

In fact here is the exact quote via

This ruling is obscenely obnoxious. It’s as though the panel said in March that a red light is red, and supplied an abundance of reasons and precedents that the red light is red. But now, the panel says the red light is green, and says it in just one and a half pages. This is politics, not law.

I absolutely agree with Joe this is all about politics.  Joe Bruno in fact is an expert at wallowing in the political pig sty per Slabbed’s Porteous judicial impeachment coverage and yes, IMHO his mere presence would clear a room of respectable lawyers in under 30 seconds flat. (Links here, here and here).

Our readers can find an analysis of the case here (h/t Editilla).  I’ll add I heard from a defense attorney this week that took the exact opposite position on the interpretation of the sovereign immunity laws.  That said the about face does add an interesting twist.

Speaking of politics and lawyers that specialize in peddling political influence, Secret Agent 99 reports Bruno has been spotted cuddled up with Magnum in uptown social circles.  Additionally Navy Secretary Ray Mabus has been a frequent guest of lawyer Robert Becnel uptown.  Becnel is brother to self-proclaimed King of Torts Danny Becnel and a long time friend of Mabus.  I figure the sharks are circling the BP oil spill fine honey pot.

These are interesting times in the salons of uptown high society.  Though the secretary may disavow knowledge of our actions, Slabbed has accepted the assignment and has intelligence assets in place to bring this unfolding story home.

Another Trout Point deed from Nova Scotia Canada, done dirt cheap as Calhoun buys in too

Makes sense that one of Danny Abel’s old class action legal associates from the tobacco days would show up with a deed. Notice the absence of the legalese “and other good and valuable consideration”.

Getting “there first with the most”: Self Admitted Felon Frank Fradella gives mucho bundled campaign cash to Mayor Half Moon.

For true folks he did as Hammerman points out today for the T-P.  He joins the River Birch Landfill people financially supporting Half Moon, who were bundlers from way far back as we reported back in February 2011.  Another serial bundler, prominent uptown class action lawyer Calvin Fayard was not mentioned today but no doubt will down the line as Slabbed continues to trail blaze this topic.


Calhoun strikes out: Louisiana Supreme Court denies writs to quash Ethics Board subpoenas involving the Caroline Fayard campaign.

Sources familiar with the DEMOPAC Ethics Board investigation indicate to Slabbed the decision came down late last week under seal and today it appears on the internet as the Louisiana Ethics Board investigation into strawman political contributions involving the failed Lite Gov campaign of Caroline Fayard will move forward including an examination of DEMOPAC’s banking records (among many others) including class action lawyer Calvin “Calhoun” Fayard.

Those wanting to catch up with the Fayard Ethics Board saga should click here to start with updates that chronicled the legal fight here and here.  We wove the Gulf Oil Spill litigation into the narrative here and tied in national politic$ here.

Though not directly related to the 2010 Gulf Oil Spill this post kicks off a series of posts as Slabbed will examine the intersection of the legal profession, politics and the oil spill litigation where competing conflict of interest are seemingly the norm.


Rut roh Calhoun! 1st Circuit Court of Appeals denies Calhoun’s writs. The Ethics Investigation into Calhoun’s alleged strawman political contributions is greenlit.

I’d say more folks but I’d be facing a fine of $2,000 and jail time so I’ll let the readers draw their own inferences there. My previous posts on this subject can be found here and here. ~ sop

Judge Barbier’s fee ruling in the Oil Spill MDL attracting more media attention.

I’ll keep this short and sweet folks as time is scarce for me today but we’re getting some referrals from a Joe Nocera column in the New York Times today about Judge Barbier’s recent fee ruling in the Oil Spill MDL and that also allows me to link Becky Mowbray’s reporting for the Times Picayune on Buddy Caldwell’s appeal of Judge Barbier’s ruling, which we covered here in a post that has been very well received in the new media. For my part I’m still cataloguing various instances where lawyers sitting on the PSC that also represent other clients against BP outside the PSC are taking diametrically opposing positions on the fee arrangement in motions filed before Judge Barbier’s court. This in turn lends the whole affair a three ring circus like quality.

Nocera, as is his wont, takes the side of corporate america, namely BP, in his piece but misses the mark by leaving out the fact that BP is an active participant in the cesspool that is this litigation even hiring the plaintiff firm that bears the name of legendary trial lawyer Wendell Gauthier to hand out campaign cash to local “luminaries” such as Bobby Jindal and Mary Landrieu. Nocera is what he is folks and his column is otherwise very accurate, well sourced and this much is true, BP has opened its wallet to make amends.

Becky Mowbray OTOH wrote the column that needed writing as she lent some much needed context to the political environment that got us here. Becky points out that Buddy Caldwell went to the legislature to obtain contingent fee authority from the legislature to pay the state’s contract lawyers in the MDL and was denied by same. She also honed in on the fact that the lawyer representing Team Jindal, Burton LeBlanc’s law firm, Baron & Budd sits on the PSC meaning Team Jindal has potentially interest conflicted council. The report had everything but Caldwell’s appeal itself, which a reader was kind enough to share so everyone could read the entire 56 page document for themselves.

I’ll have more on this down the line as the legal conflicts of interest are open, brazen and have amazingly been allowed to this point by Judge Barbier.