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Wednesday, 28th July 2010

Alliance for Justice Releases Report on Oil-Industry Ties to Fifth Circuit Judges Hearing Drilling Moratorium Case

Alliance for Justice Releases Report on Oil-Industry Ties to Fifth Circuit Judges Hearing Drilling Moratorium Case
Source: Alliance for Justice

An Alliance for Justice report has found that many U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals judges have extensive and multi-faceted ties to the oil industry, a factor which will come into play this week as a three-judge panel hears the Obama Administration's appeal of a lower court decision blocking a six-month moratorium on deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.

With oral arguments scheduled for July 8 in Hornbeck Offshore Services v. Salazar, "Judicial Gusher: the Fifth Circuit's Ties to Oil," examines not only the circuit's judges' financial interests, but also the kinds of clients they had while in private practice, their attendance at industry-sponsored "seminars," and other connections. Detailed information is offered on the three Fifth Circuit judges assigned to hear the Administration's appeal of District Judge Martin Feldman's order prohibiting the drilling moratorium from going into effect.

Among its findings, the report reveals that two of the judges on the appeals panel, Judges Jerry Edwin Smith and William Eugene Davis, frequently represented the oil and gas industries while in private practice. They also attended all-expense-paid "seminars" held at resorts in Big Sky, Montana, and sponsored by the Foundation for Research on Economics and the Environment (FREE), whose purpose is to oppose government regulation, promote free-market solutions to environmental problems, and to "explain why ecological values are not the only important ones." Judge James L. Dennis, the third member of the panel, has extensive financial holdings in at least 18 companies in the energy industry, a situation not uncommon among his Fifth Circuit peers.

+ Full Report (PDF)


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