I guess most people who visit this highly progressive internet site have heard of Federal District Court Judge Martin Feldman by now. In any case, for those who may not have heard of him, he is the District Court Judge who has stricken down and enjoined - for the second time now - the Obama Administration's temporary moratorium order on deep sea drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.
Judge Feldman has also been known to be overly friendly to all oil exploration interests throughout America, and more particularly in the Gulf states. From newspaper and internet site sources, we know that he is also a close hunting buddy of Supreme Court Justice Antonio G. Scalia. (Gee, I wonder if he is also a hunting buddy of former Vice President, Dick Cheney. At the same time, I also wonder if the judge has ever been accidentally shot during a hunting junket.) Additionally, the elderly Republican judge is likely taking telephone advice and cues from Justice Scalia concerning specific rulings in the moratorium case presently before him.
Importantly, too, District Court Judge Feldman is also an avid stock investor, and particularly of oil and gas exploration stocks. In fact, on the specific day he heard the moratorium case, he actually held stock in Exon. However, he sold it on the very morning in which he issued his first unfavorable ruling. However, that was likely too late by then.
Furthermore, amongst other widely held oil and gas stock holdings, the judge continues to own XE Corporation interests. By the way, the XE Corporation was formerly known as the Blackwater Corporation. The important point here is that the XE Corporation currently owns a large block of stock of BP and did so throughout the moratorium hearings.
Where did I get this explicit and detailed financial information concerning Judge Feldman? Well, I garnered it while watching the Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC tonight (June 25, 2010). Indeed, it was quite enlightening. I believe she also has hard copy evidence of those ongoing financial interests of the judge.
You know, that Rachel Maddow is fast becoming one of the best investigative news persons we have left in America. (You go girl!) That is, if there are any left besides her. In any case, check out that particular program for yourself. (You won't be sorry.)
Not surprisingly, there exists specific federal ethics and conflict of interest law that pertain to the moratorium case and to Judge Feldman. Specifically, it is the U.S. Code of Ethics and Judicial Conduct. It can be found at:
It provides in pertinent part as follows:
"Ch 2: Code of Conduct for United States Judges
Canon 1: A Judge Should Uphold the Integrity and Independence of the Judiciary
Canon 2: A Judge Should Avoid Impropriety and the Appearance of Impropriety in All Activities
Canon 3: A Judge Should Perform the Duties of the Office Fairly, Impartially and Diligently
Canon 4: A Judge May Engage in Extrajudicial Activities That Are Consistent with the Obligations of Judicial Office
Canon 5: A Judge Should Refrain from Political Activity"
On page two, it is also mandates that:
"B. Outside Influence. A judge should not allow family, social, political, financial, or other relationships to influence judicial conduct or judgment. A judge should neither lend the prestige of the judicial office to advance the private interests of the judge or others nor convey or permit others to convey the impression that they are in a special position to influence the judge. A judge should not testify voluntarily as a character witness." (Emphasis Added.)
Canon 2A is even more specific concerning judicial improprieties:
"An appearance of impropriety occurs when reasonable minds, with knowledge of all the relevant circumstances disclosed by a reasonable inquiry, would conclude that the judge’s honesty, integrity, impartiality, temperament, or fitness to serve as a judge is impaired. Public confidence in the judiciary is eroded by irresponsible or improper conduct by judges. A judge must avoid all impropriety and appearance of impropriety. (Emphasis added.)
The most important part of what is being implicitly and explicitly said in these canons is that any action or ruling that even gives the appearance of an impropriety is prohibited, requiring the judge to recuse himself from hearing the case, ab initio (from the very beginning).
Canon 2B is also highly relevant. It provides as follows:
"A judge should avoid lending the prestige of judicial office to advance the private interests of the judge or others." (Emphasis added.)
Unquestionably, based upon the judge's stock holdings in XE alone, he certainly has violated the above provisions by at least giving to the public "the appearance of an impropriety."
Fortunately, there is also an enforcement mechanism relative to any claimed judicial ethics violations. It can be found on page two of the Ethics and Judicial Conduct Code. It specifically provides:
"The Judicial Conference has authorized its Committee on Codes of Conduct to render advisory opinions about this Code only when requested by a judge to whom this Code applies. Requests for opinions and other questions concerning this Code and its applicability should be addressed to the Chair of the Committee on Codes of Conduct by email or as follows: Chair, Committee on Codes of Conduct at:
c/o General Counsel
Administrative Office of the United States Courts
Thurgood Marshall Federal Judiciary Building
One Columbus Circle, N.E.
Washington, D.C. 20544
The reader should also be aware that there was a more direct and quicker way in which the judge could have been forced to recuse himself from hearing the moratorium case. The lawyer representing the United States (had he had the sufficient "Audacity of Hope" and guts) should have filed a pre-hearing motion with Judge Feldman for him to recuse himself, backed up by the evidence that Rachel Maddow has provided us through her own personal initiative. Even now, at whatever level this case presently happens to be at, the motion for the judge to recuse himself could still be made. In fact, it can be made at any time.
I'll tell you what I will soon be doing: I'll be trying to get hard copies of the financial information concerning Judge Martin Feldman, so that I can send it directly to the General Counsel of the Administrative Office of the United States Courts at the address above.
You know, any one or more of you can do the same - make a written, formal complaint to that particular office. Or you can simply make a telephone call to that office to protest verbally. The more who do so, the better, I'd say. In any case, good luck to you.