Saturday, January 9, 2016

La. Justice Suing Colleagues For Tossing Him Off Oil Cases - Law360

La. Justice Suing Colleagues For Tossing Him Off Oil Cases - Law360
Law360, New York (January 5, 2016, 8:13 PM ET) -- A Louisiana Supreme Court justice is suing four fellow judges in federal court, claiming his forced removal from two civil cases against Exxon Mobil Corp. and Anadarko Petroleum Corp. over political contributions plaintiff attorneys’ made to his reelection campaign violates his constitutional rights.

Associate Justice Jefferson D. Hughes III of the Louisiana Supreme Court [filed his complaint on December 30] against Chief Justice Bernette J. Johnson and fellow Associate Justices Greg G. Guidry, Marcus R. Clark and John L. Wiemer, arguing that their November approval of his recusal from individual cases against the oil companies violated his rights under the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution, according to his complaint.

Even though Judge Hughes admits that attorneys working for plaintiffs suing Exxon and Anadarko in the cases he was removed from contributed to a political action committee, Citizens for Clean Water and Land PAC LLC, that in turn contributed nearly $500,000 to his 2012 reelection campaign, he claims he did not “coordinate or communicate” with the PAC and his recusal was improper.   

Moreover, Judge Hughes claims that his recusal has actually limited his speech as a judicial candidate and has “in effect placed unconstitutional limits on the amount of money a person can contribute to a political action committee,” according to his complaint.

“Justice Hughes, under threat of future forced recusals, may now be effectively barred from communicating with any individual who supports or might support his reelection, because such individual may one day have a case before the [Louisiana Supreme Court],” the complaint stated.....

The case is Hughes III v. Johnson et al., case number 2:15-cv-07165-MVL-DEK, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana.

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