Outrage mounts over Judge Feldman's conflict of interest


Calls for the impeachment of Federal Judge Martin Feldman are growing louder as outrage mounts over his June 22 decision to overturn President Obama's moratorium on deep-ocean oil well drilling.

The president imposed the moratorium in response to BP's Deepwater Horizon disaster that continues to gush millions of barrels of crude oil daily into the Gulf of Mexico. Yet, Judge Feldman ruled, "If some drilling equipment parts are flawed, is it rational to say all are? ... That sort of thinking seems heavy-handed and rather overbearing."

Feldman, appointed by President Reagan to the U.S. District Court for Louisiana in 1983, owns extensive stocks in oil companies and oil drilling corporations including Halliburton, whose hasty, slipshod, cementing of the well failed leading to the BP disaster.

In a clumsy attempt to cover up his conflict of interest, Feldman contacted his stockbroker on June 21, the day of the hearing on the moratorium, ordering him to sell his stocks in Exxon-Mobil the next day.

As the firestorm got hotter, Feldman sent a letter to the court's administrative office claiming he unloaded his Exxon-Mobil "prior to the opening of a court hearing on the spill moratorium case."

However, the Wall Street Journal caught the judge in his lie: "Feldman still owned the Exxon-Mobil stock on the day he heard the appeal. He benefited directly from his decision, announced the next day, to overturn the drilling moratorium, a classic conflict of interest."

A coalition of environmental organizations went back to the court July 2 and asked Judge Feldman to reverse his decision.

"The court's financial holdings in various companies involved in oil  and gas drilling raise in an objective mind a reasonable question concerning the court's impartiality in these proceedings," their legal motion declared.

Among those asking Feldman to recuse himself were the Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Defense Council and Defenders of Wildlife.

Their brief cites Feldman's 2009 financial disclosure statement that he owned stocks in Exxon-Mobil, Halliburton, Ocean Energy, Quicksilver Resources, Prospect Energy, Peabody Energy, Pengrowth Energy Trust, Atlas Energy Resources, Parker Drilling, and others.

Lisa Graves, executive director of the Center for Media and Democracy put it more bluntly. "The initiation of an impeachment effort is the only democratic remedy for such disregard for the interests of justice."

She added, "Initiating impeachment against Judge Feldman would draw an important line in the sand for other judges who might rule in favor of the industries they invest in....This marker is essential given recent federal decisions like 'Citizens United' and other cases that have sought to expand 'corporate rights' at the expense of the people."

Feldman earlier ignited outrage when he dismissed a lawsuit by 50 people who live in the Clipper Estates in suburban New Orleans, who complained that the owner of Clipper Estates who was also president of the New Orleans Home Builders Association had swindled them out money allocated to them for reconstruction of their homes after Hurricane Katrina.

The homeowners charged that the defendant pocketed the money in violation of RICO (The Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act).

Judge Feldman ruled that the plaintiffs had no standing under RICO.

Photo: A controlled burn of some of the oil spilling in the Gulf of Mexico from the Deepwater Horizon explosion. (Deepwater Horizon Response/CC)

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  • Reactions to the oil spill, from various officials and interested parties, ranged from blame and outrage at the damage caused by the spill, and spills in the past, to calls for greater accountability on the part of the U.S. government and BP, including new legislation dealing with preventative security and cleanup improvements.

    Posted by Gallvin, 12/21/2011 5:13am (4 years ago)

  • And all this time has passed, and what was done about it? Absolutely nothing! Criminal Violations of Federal Law swept under the rug. Well, I have created a petition to protest this injustice! Please check it out, and sign!


    Thank you for not being afraid to stand up for justice in the justice department,
    Wendy R. Wyatt

    Posted by Wendy Ruth Wyatt, 09/20/2010 4:29am (5 years ago)

  • Here is what is frustrating! Still, nothing has been done! These were crimes not accidents. They knew the well was not built according to safety standards, inspections were traced over from pencil to ink at cocktail parties, pouring concrete in the well was ordered. The response from the engineers was that would cause a fire! They were instructed to follow orders, so they did. Martin Feldman having $174000 invested in offshore drilling, including investments in the actual rig that blew up! Yet he refused to withdraw himself from the case, which is a conflict of interest clearly spelled out in the Code of Federal Regulations. I created the petition, please check it out and sign it! Thank you so much! ---FOR the Dolphins, Sea Turtles, Whales, Pelicans, Coral Reefs, our entire eco-system has been damaged, we still do not all the damage done. The oil is still sitting on the Gulf Ocean floor, while BP claims it disappeared with a magic trick of sinking it with dispersants and shutting up the media. The whole world thinks it is over, but the damage has just begun. Anyway, please check out the petition, it quotes the actual violations with Federal Codes. http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/injustice-in-the-justice-department/

    Posted by Wendy Ruth Wyatt, 09/17/2010 6:05pm (5 years ago)

  • If we are to continue drilling then the American people must own the resources and we must own the oil companies. No other arrangement will satisfy the American people. Resist all other government proposals and demand BP's nationalization NOW! We have had ENOUGH!

    Posted by sdahl, 07/19/2010 8:14pm (5 years ago)

  • "... including Halliburton, whose hasty, slipshod, cementing of the well failed leading to the BP disaster." It's quite interesting that you know precisely what failed and caused the disaster. From what I've read, there is no single definitive cause that has been discovered, nor has blame officially been assigned to Halliburton. It does, however, make it easy for you to take a pot shot at the judge by making such an unproven statement.

    Ask the people of the Gulf Coast states if they want all deepwater drilling halted. Their economy is highly dependent on (a) fishing, (b) tourism, and (c) the oil drilling industry. The BP disaster has crippled (a) and (b). Let's not bankrupt the Gulf Coast by an automatic suspension of all drilling.

    Posted by dp, 07/08/2010 12:21pm (5 years ago)

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