SLABBED (not exactly) Daily – August 5, 2010

On a slow news day – or a day when it’s not so hot – any one of these stories could take an entire post to cover.  However, today is neither and without going further, here is news you can use:

Making a diagnosis of “improper influence” requires a scalpel, not a sledgehammer. Not only is it unrealistic to think we can eradicate all judicial biases, instincts, leanings or interests, however termed, but it is also unwise. We want our judges to live in the real world, so that they can bring their life experiences and common sense to the table when deciding cases. Judges must remain “partial” to some influences, therefore, like the case law, and controlling statutes, and perhaps even basic standards of decency and morality, too. As The New York Times recently cited, former Chief Justice William Rehnquist’s view on recusal was that if a justice’s mind was “a complete tabula rasa” in relevant respects, it “would be evidence of lack of qualification, not lack of bias.”

While I hope you’ll follow all the links, but by all means, read this opinion post on recusal from Law.com.

  • Staying with matters of public policy for the moment, let’s talk unemployment rates. Online news is filled with stories like this about the uptick in unemployment rates – and all appear to have been written by someone clueless about the issue.

Here’s a clue – anyone reporting on the increase should start by defining “seasonal”. Continue reading “SLABBED (not exactly) Daily – August 5, 2010”

Becky Mowbray breaks down the 5th Circuit panel assigned to the drilling moratorium case. Slabbed provides some additional analysis.

As the country watched in horror as the Katrina Who Dat Judge Martin Feldman violated basic judicial ethics by presiding over a case where he had a clear conflict of interest Slabbed was already getting background from our legal team on the chances of Feldman’s tainted decision being reversed at the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. Needless to say I suspect the financial disclosure forms of the 3 Judge panel at the 5th circuit has received quite the workout lately in light of what we dug up on the Who Dat Judge but rest assured this panel is not conflicted except possible by proximity to the scene of the crime. Before I chip in some analysis let’s visit with Becky who does a good job on this story:

Three judges from the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will hear arguments Thursday on the federal government’s request to keep the deepwater drilling moratorium in place while it appeals a lower court decision overturning the ban. …………

Curiously, the government hasn’t requested that the appeal of Feldman’s June 22 moratorium decision be heard on an expedited basis. The government’s appeal brief is due Aug. 9; Hornbeck Offshore Services Inc., the marine services company that is the lead plaintiff in the case, will have a few weeks to reply, and the oral arguments have yet to be scheduled. Continue reading “Becky Mowbray breaks down the 5th Circuit panel assigned to the drilling moratorium case. Slabbed provides some additional analysis.”

Giving them the Feldman Part 1: Slabbed explores a few earlier cases involving the little guy versus big business in Louisiana's Eastern District Federal Courts as we tie in litigation against big oil to the post Katrina litigation against big insurance.

Everyone has heard the old saying that a leopard does not change its spots and like many idiomatic expressions that its roots in antiquity, it accurately describes the human condition. Judge Feldman’s latest interest conflicted ruling regarding the drilling moratorium and the intense interest therein has opened the flood gates of information flow from the Slabbed Nation.  It was a reader sending me one of Feldman’s rulings involving a lawsuit against an oil company that resonated with me as the tactics dishonest corporate defense lawyers and their lackey judges evidently use with regularity in the court system pop up again and again in litigation, whether it is the ordinary citizens against big oil or big insurance.

Let’s begin with a case from the 1990’s before Judge Feldman where ol Marty tries gave an offshore worker that was hurt on the job the Feldman in an attempt to deprive the man of justice. I used the word attempt because Feldman’s conduct in court formed the basis of an appeal so it from the Westlaw analysis of the case Billy G. and Cheryl Bufford v Rowan Drilling Company that we begin:

Employee sued employer and supervisor to recover damages for injuries allegedly sustained in workplace. The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, Martin L.C. Feldman, J., entered judgment for defendants after jury trial, and employee appealed. The Court of Appeals, Politz, Chief Judge, held that employee’s substantial rights to fair trial were impaired by defendants’ inferring that employee brought fraudulent claim from fact that his counsel had previously represented former co-worker in similar lawsuit, by likelihood that jury heard trial judge threaten employee’s counsel with jail during sidebar, and by trial court’s preventing employee’s counsel from countering defendants’ aspersions. Continue reading “Giving them the Feldman Part 1: Slabbed explores a few earlier cases involving the little guy versus big business in Louisiana's Eastern District Federal Courts as we tie in litigation against big oil to the post Katrina litigation against big insurance.”

Obama to appeal "who dat' Judge" Feldman's ruling – POTUS v Katrina's don't-know-wind-from-water 5th Circuit "who dem" BP-stock-owning judges

“We will immediately appeal to the 5th circuit the president strongly believes as the Department of Interior and the Department of Justice argued yesterday that continuing to drill at these depths without knowing what happened does not make any sense and… potentially puts the safety of those on the rigs and the environment in the Gulf at a danger that the president does not believe we can afford right now,” said spokesman Robert Gibbs during Tuesday’s briefing.

Y’all come on down, Mr. President,  and sample some of Judge Edith’s home cooking.

 

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.

Jones was nominated by President Reagan and joined the Court in 1985.  SLABBED examined the “absurdity of Judge Jones’ reasoning” a year ago; so no one should be surprised to see BP stock listed in her financial disclosure report (shown below). Continue reading “Obama to appeal "who dat' Judge" Feldman's ruling – POTUS v Katrina's don't-know-wind-from-water 5th Circuit "who dem" BP-stock-owning judges”

Slabbed covers the coverage of the story we broke to the world on Katrina's "Who Dat" Judge Martin Feldman.

I’ve received quite the education in the workings of the media since Katrina and never cease to be amazed how those that supposedly see things as they are (ie journalists) over PR spin are impacted by the same cognitive biases that afflict the rest of us mere mortals. Since we broke the news contained on Judge Martin Feldman’s 2008 financial disclosure form regarding his affinity for oil related stocks, the media have woven that facet into most every report on Feldman’s ruling yesterday blocking President Obama’s drilling moratorium. Simply put it appears results oriented Judge Feldman has a huge conflict of interest here, one that his backers will not be able to wish away and sweep under the carpet New Orleans style.

Normally one would expect the best reporting on this would come from the local media outlets and indeed some have done a masterful job covering this story. Sadly, the regions premiere newspaper The Times Picayune has chosen to circle the wagons around Judge Feldman and break out the pom poms rather than explore how Feldman’s ruling is now tainted. Becky Mowbray, a fine journalist who has done some fantastic reporting on the scams insurers employed to dump their wind claim obligations on the National Flood Insurance Program and whose work we have featured on stabbed more times than I can count took a journalistic leave of absence in favor of pom poms and it is with her story we begin:

A federal judge in New Orleans blocked the Obama administration’s moratorium on deepwater drilling Tuesday, prohibiting the government from enforcing the six-month drilling ban announced just weeks after the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon rig that many in Louisiana fear will be economically devastating. Continue reading “Slabbed covers the coverage of the story we broke to the world on Katrina's "Who Dat" Judge Martin Feldman.”

Katrina's "who dat Judge Martin Feldman" now dabbling in oil!

He’s back! None other than “who dat Judge Martin Feldman” is about to streamline and steamroll us again.  Times Picayune reporter Rebecca Mowbray has the story:

U.S. District Court Judge Martin Feldman said today that he will decide on whether to issue a preliminary injunction against the six-month deepwater drilling moratorium by noon Wednesday.

After a hearing in federal court this morning, Feldman said he hopes to have his decision ready by noon Tuesday if possible.

The hearing was part of a lawsuit seeking to lift the deepwater drilling moratorium on an expedited basis, despite an effort by the federal government for a delay until the end of July, two months into the six-month shutdown.

Feldman, “a true blue outcome-oriented judicial activist who led the law where he wanted it to go” in Katrina litigation, definitely knows where he’s going with the decision he will make in this case.  Anyone doubting the outcome need only to look at his Financial Disclosure Report:
Continue reading “Katrina's "who dat Judge Martin Feldman" now dabbling in oil!”