Judges Recuse Themselves in Gulf Oil Disaster

Judges are dropping like flies in the Gulf Oil disaster, recusing faster than you can say “worst environmental catastrophe of our lifetimes.”Curiously, one judge has not issued an order of recusal:

BP and other defendants in spill cases asked the multidistrict panel to put the case in Houston, home of each one’s U.S. operational headquarters. The companies asked that the case be assigned to Judge Lynn Hughes.

Hughes has lectured for an oilfield industry professional group that pays his travel expenses, according to filings obtained from the Judicial Watch website.

Mutual Funds

Hughes also owns six mutual funds that include shares in companies involved in the spill, including one fund whose largest component is Anadarko Petroleum Corp., a minority partner in the damaged well, according to the filings.

Among Hughes’s reported mutual fund holdings are Legg Mason Aggressive Growth Fund, which was almost 10 percent Anadarko at the end of March, and AIM Basic Value Fund, which included shares of Halliburton and Transocean as of the same period.

Hughes, in an e-mail, declined to discuss any aspect of the oil spill case before him or any potential conflict of interest.

The mutual fund issue doesn’t really bother me.I’m more torn over the oil industry lecturing, and would want to know more about the circumstances of how this judge got invited to speak to oil industry professionals in the first place.

Still, given the stakes, one would think it would be prudent for the integrity of the federal judiciary to find someone who is absolutely squeaky clean (unlike our precious Gulf).