"5th Circuit Judges Shrug Off Critics, Hang Onto Oil Investments"

"Despite criticism over perceived ties to oil and gas companies, judges of the New Orleans-based federal appeals court that frequently handles cases affecting the energy industry have made little effort to divest themselves of investments that could create conflicts of interest, according to new financial disclosure statements.

Environmentalists and liberal groups often accuse the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals of appearing to be slanted in favor of the industry, largely due to the investments that some judges hold but also due to the fact that several members worked in the energy sector when in private practice.

The financial disclosure statements, made available last month, show that seven of the court's 15 active judges for whom 2010 reports are available still hold stocks in oil and gas industry-related companies, own mineral rights or invest in mutual funds focused on the energy industry. Chief Judge Edith Jones is the only member of the court who has yet to file her report.

The 5th Circuit -- which has jurisdiction over Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas -- hears a considerable number of oil and gas cases, including offshore drilling permitting disputes (Greenwire, April 25)."

Lawrence Hurley reports for Greenwire June 24, 2011.

Source: Greenwire, 06/27/2011