My last post on this topic of the recent WWL TeeVee profile of Shane Gates spurred a reader to do a bit of docket diving on PACER on the civil case Gates v Strain and what we found raises even more questions about Mike Perlstein’s 2 part made for TeeVee News special report on the arrest of Shane Gates in November 2006 and injuries he sustained in the incident. You see folks, part of what made Part 2 of Perlstein’s report ring so hollow was that all the legal experts Perlstein quotes, including WWL’s own in house expert Chick Foret, presented a version of the related civil case that did not compare with the court record itself. No court document illustrates the disconnect better than Gates v Strain document #196, order and opinion by Judge Stanwood Duval. Before I quote from that document, let’s visit with Part 2 of Mike Perlstein’s report on the arrest of Goatherder Shane Gates titled Attorney says justice intentionally stalled in deputy beating case:
Gates’ lawyers got a speedy acquittal by presenting a very different picture. An expert witness said the chase actually lasted for only six-tenths of a mile and 80 seconds. The DWI allegations were contradicted by the fact that Gates was pulled over just minutes after leaving a car dealership finance office after buying a new Pontiac.
“The jury in St. Tammany Parish did not buy the DA’s theory of his case when it was tried,” Williams said. “They came back in almost record time as to a not guilty verdict.”
Did you get the message folks? You know, the one where Gates was acquitted on his felony DWI charge? Not so fast as it turns out the only Felony charge Gates faced was Unlawful flight but let’s circle that for now as we continue:
“The district attorney should not be prosecuting the victim,” Williams said. “The district attorney should be prosecuting the perpetrators.”
Williams is representing Gates in a civil rights lawsuit in federal court. That lawsuit was filed in October 2007, 11 months after the fateful traffic stop. But that suit has been put on hold because the St. Tammany District Attorney’s Office continues to prosecute Gates.
Gates’ attorneys believe St. Tammany authorities are intentionally stalling justice. One of those attorneys is the retired chief justice of the Louisiana Supreme Court, Pascal Calogero.
Last night after the 6pm WWL TeeVee newscast I started getting emails from segments of the local legal community that know the walking lawsuits that are Attorney Danny Abel and his “son” Shane Gates. Now I’ll grant it is not unusual for a practicing lawyer to be associated with lawsuits but Abel practices a curious version of the law indeed and wore many hats, from being Nipun Desai’s staff attorney at the Super 8 Motel to Aaron Broussard’s law partner at the Super 8 Motel on Clearview. Gates, along with Abel business associates Charles Leary and Vaughn Perret often served as Abel’s in-house plaintiffs for his lawsuits but before I get to all that we need more background for you newbies reading this.
Here on Slabbed we know this social/political network as the Goatherders and it was formerly lead by new Dragon Queen Aaron Broussard and the network includes media members like WWL TeeVee morning man Eric Paulsen, who evidently lived with Abel and Gates in Slidell before Katrina. Ironically it was Slabbed coverage of Paulsen’s lawsuit against State Farm that earned Slabbed the first threats of a defamation suit from Broussard and Abel’s business associates in Canada, Charles Leary and Vaughn Perret. Once upon a time Abel and Perret were gay lovers and along with Broussard, Leary and Gates formed life long business associations including advertising what appears to be money laundering /tax evasion services via the Costa Rica Company Cerro Coyote SA, which Aaron Broussard sold shares in to politically connected parish contractors like Carl Eberts dating to the late 1990s. It is through that lens that I and a few area lawyers that know the gang filtered last night’s lawsuit PR pump Gates received from WWL TeeVee as Slabbed will now tell the rest of the story.
As Lockemuptight’s sharp eye caught, the fact that Perlstein’s report omitted the reason Gates was stopped by St Tammany Parish Sheriff’s deputies was evident and thus Perlstein’s story is incomplete. Gates’ lawyer, Magnum J.D.’s partner James Williams, points to the not guilty verdict and the fact Gates closed on his new GTO 20 minutes at a local car dealership before being stopped as proof Gates was not drunk. I say those two facts prove nothing and here is why. The BAC tests were lost and thus could not be presented into evidence. If I were on Gates criminal trial jury I too would have voted to acquit him in record time on charges related to drunk driving without the BAC evidence. Simply put no BAC test, no case unless there was video, which in this case there is not. That said the blood test were drawn at the Heart Hospital by an RN unaffiliated with the tussle. The test was lost leaving only the results for the Louisiana Court of Appeals to mention as a case fact in a decision that benefitted Gates. The Heart Hospital was also sued by Gate’s in this matter. 2.7BAC is very high and it would not take much liquor for a 145 pound guy like Gates to get there.
What makes this interesting is a few months before Gates ended up in dutch with the law, Matt Labash at the Weekly Standard was in New Orleans visiting with his friends Danny Abel and Shane Gates writing eloquently about the visit in late March 2006. Here is a snippet:
I NEVER PASS THROUGH NEW ORLEANS without seeing two of my favorite people: Danny Abel and Shane Gates. They are large-hearted men, generous and true, and both possess a drinking companion’s most desirable trait: They stay until closing time. I met them nearly a decade ago, when profiling Danny’s then law-partner, the late Wendell “The Goat” Gauthier, a legend of the trial bar who sued anything that moved, and probably many things that didn’t.
Folks last night’s latest from Baldwin v Costner made me and a couple of lifers nostalgic for Slabbed’s previous coverage of the shakedown of BP by Kevin Costner and others that ended up stuffing money into the pockets of several notable area politicians. Let’s review:
Just in case anyone was wondering how a relatively few individuals on Wall Street could almost single-handedly bankrupt the country and not a single person went to jail for any of the massive financial frauds that have come to light (we bailed them out instead) wonder no more as the good folks over at Zero Hedge compare and contrast campaign finance reports of Harry Reid with John Boehner pointing out both men are owned by corporate interests lock stock and barrel.
BP dropped its wallet in the wrong neighborhood. ~ Member of the national media recounting his favorite BP quote heard during the oil spill.
As one of the world’s leading companies, we have a responsibility to set high standards: to be, and be seen to be, a business which is committed to integrity. In a complex global business environment like ours, that’s not always easy. Our code of conduct is designed to help us achieve this.
Our code of conduct is the cornerstone of our commitment to integrity. As Bob Dudley, our group chief executive, affirmed: “Our reputation, and therefore our future as a business, depends on each of us, everywhere, every day, taking personal responsibility for the conduct of BP’s business”. The BP code of conduct is an essential tool to help our people meet this aspiration. The code summarizes our standards for the way we behave. All our employees must follow the code of conduct. It clearly defines what we expect of our business and our people, regardless of location and background. Ultimately it is about helping BP people to do the right thing.
And we have this from Magnum’s contract with BP:
BP Legal expects that the Firm will adhere to BP’s Code of Conduct when providing services to BP
Hat tip to several readers including the guy who wrote:
Going to be an awkward Thanksgiving at the Houghtaling household….
First reader to get us a copy of the suit gets a free Slabbed “Shit Floats” T-Shirt. (As soon as we do the design/build 😉 ) The name of the case is: Stephen Huber, Todd Slack, Brian Houghtaling, Rajan Pandit, Charles Thomas v Gauthier Houghtaling and Williams, LLP.
The case has been assigned to Nancy Miller, who beat the Magnum supported Norma Broussard for the Division I spot at the 24th Judicial District. Rut Roh………..
As I’ve gotten to know elements of the greater NOLA legal community I’ve come to appreciate the legacy on the plaintiff’s side of the bar of the late Wendell Gauthier, who was a litigator’s litigator. Simply put the man had a special talent in reading and reaching juries. In fairness, I’ve also heard the stories of the impact the man’s accumulated wealth had on elements of the local judiciary, especially at the zenith of his career with the tobacco litigation. As Gauthier died relatively young many of his contemporaries and former partners are still around as are an entire generation of younger lawyers that learned the art of the arguing a case from Gauthier in the years before he died.