Saturday, December 5, 2009

Corrupt Judges and Lawyers! We Love You Louisiana

Louisiana Federal District Judge Thomas Porteous is in the process of being impeached, and it's likely he will be sent to prison.  According to news accounts, Porteous is a longtime serving State and Federal judge.  The Times-Picayune wrote in t 2006, that Judge Porteous was one of Lousisiana's most popular jurists, first elected to the State bench and subsequently appointed to the US District Court by President Bill Clinton.

Porteous' popularity stemmed from his charismatic character, self-deprecating humor, generosity to support staff.  His friends were the cream of the New Orleans Bar; he never lunched alone or in later years, picked up a check.  In fact, Porteous was so deeply in debt due to a gambling addiction he surreptitiously  filed personal bankruptcy under a pseudonym.  You ask, how? Well, I'll revisit the how in a subsequent post--let's just say the questions surrounding Judge Porteous are endless.  After getting released from his gambling-related indebtedness, Porteous returned to the tables and fell even deeper into debt.

The part I wish to focus on are the attorneys who got involved in the corruptions.  According to news reports many notable Louisiana lawyers are lined up to take the fall with the Judge for bribery, and corruption.   Robert Creely and Jacob Amato, two of Judge Porteous attorney pals told a Congressional panel that hey had been making cash payments to the Judge in exchange for assignments from the bench for over a decade.  Disciplinary charges are pending against them.  Three other attorneys:  Don Gardner, Leonard Levenson and Warren "Chip" Forestall  are also known to have provided Judge Porteous with gifts and cash.  The anecdote that is most disturbing to me concerns the Judge's May 1999 trip to Vegas for his son's bachelor's party, Attorney Creely helped pay for the trip, Attorney Gardner was in the midst of litigation in Porteous's court and Creely's partner, Jacob Amato represented one of the other parties.  It's confusing, but if you're at all interested in the ideal of impartial justice--the convoluted tale of corruption should hit you right in the pit of the stomach.

Years ago I was handling a case involving a very powerful nursing home operator in a small county near the border of Our State,  neither the nursing home operator or my client had any particular ties to this county or its court.  The nursing home operator was accustomed to having his way--so, Mr. Nursing home Operator bought the County Prosecutor's son, a ne'er-do-well lawyer who couldn't sue his way out of wet tissue.  The lawyer son did nothing in exchange for this employment except sign documents, a brilliant lawyer from the state capital who specialized in nursing home law did all the work.  During the pendency of the lawsuit the Judge assigned to the case attended a "reverse raffle" as a guest of the prosecutor, and the prosecutor's son--message sent, message received.    My client dismissed her case.

I've said many times, here at the Bad Lawyer blawg, that it was rare occasion that I encountered real corruption among judges--while we the people encounter and engage in institutionally corrupt or perverse judicial selection, lawyering, and justice--the few really corrupt judges, still have the power to strike awe.


  1. If you rarely encounter corruption among judges, maybe you should get active in the Calcasieu Judicial System.

  2. Please feel free to share more about this subject.