Patterico's Pontifications

6/24/2010

Judge Feldman Won’t Back Down (Updated)

Filed under: Law,Obama — DRJ @ 2:07 pm



[Guest post by DRJ]

In response to Judge Martin Feldman’s recent order enjoining the Obama Administration’s 6-month moratorium on Gulf drilling, Secretary Ken Salazar first said he would reissue the moratorium with better reasons and now suggests he will revise it in a more limited fashion. At the same time, the lawyers returned to Judge Feldman’s courtroom to ask for a stay, although to no avail. Instead of a blanket moratorium, the government’s new moratorium may focus on exploratory wells in unknown formations.

Judge Feldman will also provide updated financial disclosure documents.

The facts are very different but this judicial vs executive branch showdown is starting to remind me of Judge John J. Sirica and President Richard Nixon. The Obama Administration would do well to avoid those comparisons.

— DRJ

UPDATE: In the comments, Aaron Worthing links a Bayou Buzz report that states Judge Feldman disposed of conflicting oil and gas holdings in 2008 at some point in the past. Presumably Judge Feldman’s disclosure will confirm whether the Bayou Buzz information is correct or not.

13 Responses to “Judge Feldman Won’t Back Down (Updated)”

  1. btw, the lefty smear is that he “owns” stocks in oil companies. the truth is he owned them 2 years ago; no evidence he owns them today.

    and of course if he owned any today, you would think the government lawyers would bring that up to get him off the case. so they haven’t therefore he probably doesn’t. its the classic dog that didn’t bark.

    Aaron Worthing (e7d72e)

  2. Aaron, it is the automatic play of the Democrats / Left today – character attacks in place of substance.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  3. Btw, related. Feldman is getting death threats. http://www.bayoubuzz.com/buzz/latest-buzz/10729-gulf-oil-moratorium-judge-threatened

    money quote:

    “Much of the sensational reporting on Feldman’s investments was based on outdated information. The Judge was blasted for owning stock in Transocean, Ltd and Halliburton, two of the major companies involved in the Deepwater Horizon disaster. Feldman owned those stocks in 2008; however, he sold those shares long before issuing his ruling this week. In fact, this updated information will be released in the next report on his stock holdings.

    “If Feldman held financial interests in any of companies involved in the lawsuit or the Deepwater Horizon rig, he would not have been allowed the take the case. The 5th District Court uses a sophisticated computer system to check whether judges have a conflict of interest in any legal proceeding. This system automatically determines whether a judge needs to be recused from a particular case. In this lawsuit, Feldman was allowed to take the case because he did not own any stock related to the parties involved.”

    Bluntly, in my dealings, federal judges are really of a different calliber. They are extremely intelligent, even when you disagree with them, and they are incredibly fastidious of even the appearance of impropriety. i mean, of course there are exceptions, but its a fair rule of thumb. And it is just plain low to attack one because he ruled a way you didn’t like.

    Especially because it was pretty much black letter law what he did. You can’t lie when justifying your decision and expect it to be upheld. its that simple.

    Aaron Worthing (e7d72e)

  4. Thanks, Aaron. That seems like relevant information and I noted it in an update.

    DRJ (d43dcd)

  5. Is Emperor Obama going to try to summon him to Washington for a shakedown conversation next?

    daleyrocks (1d0d98)

  6. My understanding is that yes Judge Feldman did indeed dispose of the stocks but that he still drives a car what uses petroleum and petroleum derivatives in no small quantities.

    happyfeet (71f55e)

  7. 0bama ask what
    want me suck up oil with straw?
    He not suck that much?

    ColonelHaiku (c2b11b)

  8. DRJ

    Thanks for the tip o the hat. now i hate to say this, but i gotta nitpick you a little.

    He owned the stocks in 2008.

    But the article didn’t say when he sold them, just that it was “long before issuing his ruling this week.” So theoretically maybe he dumped all his oil stock the moment he learned of the spill. “Long before” in my book is at least a month, but if the truth turned out to be much more recent, i probably couldn’t say the guy was lying.

    Its really shameful to see the AP and the NYT treat this judge this way. Let’s all remember that the next time someone cries “McCarthyism!”

    Aaron Worthing (A.W.) (f97997)

  9. Good point. I changed my Update to make that more clear.

    DRJ (d43dcd)

  10. Just to update now that Judge Feldman has released his latest disclosure:

    The 2008 disclosure listed 20 individual oil & gas industry investments worth at least $100K and as much as $300K. The 2009 disclosure that his office released lists 21 oil & gas industry investments with a similar aggregate value. Of those, 11 have direct financial interests in deepwater drilling in the Gulf.

    Along with the release of the disclosure, Feldman’s office issued a statement. After two weeks of proceedings, on the morning he was to deliver his verdict, Judge Feldman suddenly “remembered” that he held Exxon stock & that Exxon owned one of the 33 rigs affected by the moratorium. He immediately called his broker, his office said, and instructed him to sell the Exxon stock. The transaction went through the next morning, AFTER the decision lifting the moratorium was announced. None of the other stocks whose value would have been negatively impacted by the moratorium were sold, and, since the sale went through the morning after his decision was announced, the stocks sold at a higher price.

    This is about as clear a case of conflict of interest as one can imagine.

    Judges must be held to very high standards regarding such conflicts of interest. Currently, it is assumed judges are capable of honestly recusing themselves, but there are appeal mechanisms in place should there be any question, and now they are being invoked, putting Feldman’s decision at risk of being overturned on appeal.

    It’s time we ease back on such black-and-white, partisan thinking, stop just parroting what our pundits of choice contend, and start thinking for ourselves. Regardless of who we consider to be our political “home team,” we should be concerned if such blatant conflict can be swept under the rug or dismissed as political targeting. Remember, one day we might find ourselves sitting before a judge who has interests in what the guys at the OTHER table do for a living.

    Dan Davis (254df5)

  11. Just to update now that Judge Feldman has released his latest disclosure:
    Comment by Dan Davis — 7/1/2010 @ 7:29 am

    An “update” from someone who has never been here before, decrying partisan thinking and parroting of talking points.

    I’m skeptical. Links?

    Stashiu3 (44da70)

  12. @Stashiu3: Understandable. I came across this blog while looking for updates on the appeal. I’m just a software development consultant who hates government and corporate corruption. There is no intent to take sides. In fact I think there’s been a lot of bungling from every party involved in this fiasco.

    You’ll also see below that I admit in looking back over materials I gathered that I may be wrong about the timing of Feldman’s stock sale. If that turns out to be the case, the owner of this blog should amend, or even delete, my original entry.

    Links below…

    Judge Feldman 2009 Financial Disclosure:
    http://www.scribd.com/doc/33757391/judge-martin-feldman-public-2009-financial-disclosure

    (The letter stating Feldman’s divestiture is appended at the end of the disclosure PDF file.)

    In reading back over all the links I gathered reporting on the divestiture, I see there is considerable confusion about dates and the timing of the sale. Given that, I could be wrong about whether the divestiture happened just before or just after Feldman announced his verdict. I’m happy to stand corrected on this point if I am wrong. I certainly am not trying to misinform; it confused most of the reporters as well. Said Tennille Tracy of Dow Jones Newswires: “Judge Feldman’s letter said the drilling moratorium hearing took place on Monday, June 21. The hearing occurred on Tuesday, June 22. A secretary for Judge Feldman said he was not available to explain the discrepancy.”

    Whether Feldman divested the Exxon stock just before or just after he announced his decision, he did not sell any of his other Gulf-drilling-related stocks such as Allis-Chalmers Energy. As the Fox Business News article below states: “Allis-Chalmers said in a quarterly filing that its rental-services unit has been ‘very dependent on drilling activity in the Gulf of Mexico.’

    “The company also said it is monitoring the Gulf of Mexico spill ‘as we do generate a significant amount of revenues from our rental service segment from activities in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico.'”

    Fox Business article: http://www.foxbusiness.com/story/markets/rd-update-judge-moratorium-case-sold-exxon-stock-week/

    A good article discussing gaffs made by both sides: http://cfelectro.com/real/?p=10677

    If there is any feeling that I have “crashed the party,” please accept my apology, as my intent was to comment from the perspective of concern for the integrity of the judicial system. If in the end Judge Feldman is exonerated, I’ll be very happy to hear it. I think we all need to be able to feel a basic level of trust in our right to a fair hearing.

    Dan Davis (82e903)

  13. Did he call his broker before or after the market closed for the day?
    If it was before, his broker was derelict in not making the trade before closure; if it was after, then the trade couldn’t have been made until the market opened the following day, and his broker should have completed it at opening, which would have been before the court opened for business.

    AD - RtR/OS! (1ed577)


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