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”

Breaking News – Government asks Court to reconsider dismissal of Forensics from Rigsby qui tam

“The United States respectfully requests that this Court reconsider its order of July 29, 2010 granting the motion to dismiss filed by defendant Forensic Analysis and Engineering Corp. (FAEC). The United States requests that this Court vacate that order and deny FAEC’s motion to dismiss, without prejudice, because the Government has not approved FAEC’s proposed settlement and cannot do so in its current form.”

Read theUnited States’ Motion for Reconsideration of Order Dismissing Defendant Forensic Analysis and Engineering Corp and supporting Memorandum.

Back later with comment.

Why do people confess to crimes they didn’t commit? (a repost from SLABBED archives)

Prosecutors wield tremendous power, which is kept in check by a set of unique ethical obligations. In explaining why prosecutors sometimes fail to honor these multiple and arguably divergent obligations, scholars tend to fall into two schools of thought.

The first school focuses upon institutional incentives that promote abuses of power. These scholars implicitly treat the prosecutor as a rational actor who decides whether to comply with a rule based on an assessment of the expected costs and benefits of doing so.

The second school focuses upon bounded human rationality, drawing on the teachings of cognitive science to argue that prosecutors transgress not because of sinister motives, but because they labor under the same cognitive limitations that all humans do.

… Research on the psychological effects of accountability demonstrates that when people are judged primarily for their ability to persuade others of their position, they are susceptible to defensive bolstering at the expense of objectivity.

With these thoughts from A Situationist View of Criminal Prosecutors in mind, we turn to  The Situation of False Confessions: Continue reading “Why do people confess to crimes they didn’t commit? (a repost from SLABBED archives)”

USA files Statement of Interest – supports Branch qui tam relators’ Motion to Strike defendant’s third party claims

Although the United States has declined to intervene and is therefore not a party to this action, the United States remains the real party in interest, entitled to share in any recovery that may be obtained in the qui tam action…The United States therefore has a substantial interest in ensuring that the FCA is interpreted correctly…The United States herein takes no position on the overall merits of any of the claims or third-party claims raised in this case or Fidelity’s opposition brief.  The United States submits that Relator’s motion to strike the third-party claims for overpayment asserted by defendant Fidelity against its individual flood-insurance policyholders named in Relator’s complaint should be granted, in keeping with well-established law prohibiting third-party practice in FCA cases.

In a June,  SLABBED reported the first Statement of Interest filed by the USA in the Branch qui tam case  Support for Rigsby qui tam found hanging on the Branch qui tam docket. Background on the issue prompting the USA to file a second  Statement of Interest –  defendant Fidelity’s assertion of third party claims – can be found in the recent SLABBED post, taproot – digging out the fact of Branch qui tam.

While a striking departure from the conduct of the USA in the Rigsby qui tam, these statements of interest reflect nothing than the need for the President to fill the vacant US Attorney positions in Mississippi – preferably with individuals who understand  the prosecutor’s special duty is not to convict, but to secure justice.

As was the case with the first, the US Attorney’s office in Baton Rouge has demonstrated  the competence and commitment necessary to fulfill a “prosecutor’s special duty” in this second Statement of Interest: Continue reading “USA files Statement of Interest – supports Branch qui tam relators’ Motion to Strike defendant’s third party claims”

A Corporate Predator

The Rigsbys’ qui tam claims are now set for trial. State Farm’s favorite strong arm tactic – a slap suit aimed back at the relators as a counterclaim – has been mooted by severance, with all discovery stayed. In a word, the Rigsbys’ qui tam case is now early stage radioactive. For those of you who care to study the pathology of corporate monopolies, now is the time to tune in, lock your dial and follow State Farm’s every move.

You’ll likely see State Farm agents turn up in hometown newspaper photos, handing a giant copy of State Farm’s check to the fire chief, buying the police department some pricey crime fighting device, or donating education funds to the local school board. As trial approaches, the number and frequency of “Good Neighbor” TV ads in the broadcast markets of the jury venire will double. Typically, these ads falsely portray State Farm as a deeply caring protector of America’s families. You’ll see lots of minority face time, puppy dogs, tearful then happy children and so on. Not much different than the “family values” theme some of our best pimp politicians like to market. That’s what you will see; what’s more important is what you won’t see.

You won’t see the “Shred-it” trucks pulling up to State Farm’s and Renfroe’s lawyers’ offices. (They needn’t go to State Farm’s regional or headquarter offices, they have their own shredders and corporate employee operators. In fact, State Farm shredded copies of altered engineering reports and corresponding invoices right there in their temporary Katrina claims office off Pops Ferry Road). Also, you won’t see State Farm’s creepy data managers systematically scrubbing data off the head office’s mainframes and hundreds of work stations. You won’t see this same thing happening behind the walls of State Farm’s and Renfroe’s lawyer’s offices either, or even within the offices of the federal court in Birmingham. You won’t see crooked law clerks scurrying to isolate and delete phone logs or emails proving hundreds of unauthorized ex parte contacts with State Farm’s and Renfroe’s case lawyers. You won’t see the destruction of records detailing communications with FEMA’s David Maurstad or James Shortly, or with FEMA’s shadow manager, Computer Science Corporation (“CSC”), all to get the proof of loss requirements under the flood program waived, and in place within 48 hours of Katrina. Continue reading “A Corporate Predator”

Good Job Brownie: The Washington Post Reports on Qui Tam Backlog in DC

H/t to a reader for the story. Now we know State Farm gets to pummel the sisters for several more years before their claim that State Farm defrauded the taxpayers ever sees the light of day. Is it any wonder everyday people feel the concept of justice only applies to the wealthy and big business. I also get the feeling that 8 years of Bush and Cheney have virtually destroyed the effectiveness of the US Department of Justice. Carrie Johnson has the report:

More than 900 cases alleging that government contractors and drugmakers have defrauded taxpayers out of billions of dollars are languishing in a backlog that has built up over the past decade because the Justice Department cannot keep pace with the surge in charges brought by whistle-blowers, according to lawyers involved in the disputes.

The issue is drawing renewed interest among lawmakers and nonprofit groups because many of the cases involve the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, rising health-care payouts, and privatization of government functions — all of which offer rich new opportunities to swindle taxpayers.

Since 2001, 300 to 400 civil cases have been filed each year by employees charging that their companies defrauded the government. But under the cumbersome process that governs these cases, Justice Department lawyers must review them under seal, and whistle-blowers routinely wait 14 months or longer just to learn whether the department will get involved. Continue reading “Good Job Brownie: The Washington Post Reports on Qui Tam Backlog in DC”