When it comes to Gulf Coast claims larger than $250,000 dollars, appeals will be heard by a special group of judges and Feinberg named Jack Weiss, chancellor of the Louisiana State University Paul M. Hebert Law Center in Baton Rouge, to be the person to select who those judges will be.
About his selection, Feinberg said, “I canvassed the Gulf region in an attempt to find an individual who would bring unquestioned credibility, integrity and sound judgment to the process of selecting the appeals judges…I have found that person in Jack Weiss. He brings decades of experience to this assignment, both as a nationally recognized law professor and administrator. I am confident that I have chosen the right person for the job.”
Okay, a couple of things:
Endorsements, especially such glowing ones by Ken Feinberg should make anyone nervous these days.
That aside, I will not attempt to impugn Jack Weiss’s ethics or his impartiality here. This is not for me to say and it is my hope he will do a fine job, choose judges who will be of the highest ethical order and unwilling to be swayed by the large financial reach of British Petroleum.
But that very reach is what might give cause for concern.
Institutional pressures work in small, subtle ways and you better believe British Petroleum and Ken Feinberg know this.
They also know that LSU, the university where Jack Weiss is a respected leader in law, has received millions upon millions of dollars from British Petroleum. Now, I wouldn’t insinuate a direct quid-pro-quo is in effect, but the idea that those amounts of money don’t linger somewhere in the back of Mr. Weiss’s mind as he selects these judges is not so easy to dismiss. Especially these days, as Bobby Jindal is turning the destruction of Louisiana’s higher education into an art form, cutting millions of dollars to universities already financially hurting.
Whereas I don’t doubt Mr. Weiss’s experience and qualifications, I do have a harder time believing his employment at LSU and the money BP has given to that university didn’t factor into BP/Feinberg’s selection. Really, for them it is a win-win. Weiss is local and if no institutional pressures are applied, well no harm, no foul, can’t blame a corporation for trying. But if somehow such pressures are applied, leading to friendlier judges?
Then they win the bonus round.
Jack Weiss, in accepting this appointment said, “I am deeply honored to be entrusted with this important public service assignment. My goal is simple: to select impartial, highly competent judges to decide GCCF appeals fairly, expeditiously, and in keeping with the law.”
Assuming that all goes ethically well, the judges he appoints may be the first to do such things…so, here’s hoping.
Read the article:
Have a nice day.