By November 15, 2012 2 Comments Read More →

Not Just Any Supreme Court Race

The presidential elections have come and gone. The hype of the 24-hour media coverage is all but dying down. However, another election is still undecided. On December 8th, the residents of Louisiana Supreme Court District 5 will head to the polls for the run-off election between Democratic Circuit Judge John Michael Guidry and Republican Circuit Judge Jeff Hughes. District 5 covers the parishes of East and West Baton Rouge, East and West Feliciana, Livingston, Ascension, Iberville and Pointe Coupee Parishes; however, the statewide implications of this race are much greater.

What are the greater implications of this race? The Judicial branch can largely influence the future of our state through social needs as well as legal and business concerns. Will we be pro-business and have a healthy legal climate for companies to conduct business, or will we continue down the same path of ranking at the bottom of too many national polls?

Presently, Louisiana’s legal climate, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, is among the absolute worst in the United States. Louisiana is ranked 49th for our lawsuit climate, judges competency, judges impartiality, and juries fairness. Yes, that is correct, 49th out of 50 states. So when we look at this Supreme Court race, we have to ask ourselves which candidate once elected will help reverse these alarming numbers?

The Economic Judicial Report, prepared by the Judicial Evaluation Institute of Washington D.C. ranked Judge Jeff Hughes at 29% regarding his ability to restrain liabilities within our state. Liabilities are the chief concerns of the business and legal communities when deciding on a Supreme Court justice. Judge Guidry scored 58% on this same reporting scale.

It is also fair to note that Judge Jeff Hughes is supported by a small group of trial lawyers that have created a cottage industry called legacy lawsuits. According to a report compiled for the Louisiana Legislature by the Department of Natural Resources in February 2012, of these 271 legacy suits brought against the oil and gas industry, Louisiana Office of Conservation has not received environmental data for 210 or 78% of these cases. These stats indicate that the cases are merely filed to extort the finances of the oil and gas industry. Insurance companies are telling Louisiana oil and gas producers that they will no longer cover their companies due to legacy suits being filed in the state. This is but one example of how Louisiana’s legal climate and Judge Hughes supporters have shown anti-business and pro-extortion tendencies.

Another interesting point to note is that Governor Bobby Jindal, after not supporting any candidate in the general election, has now backed Judge Hughes. During the past legislative session, the business community fought hard to find some resolution on the legacy lawsuit issue. On May 15th, Governor Jindal announced a compromise that would end the long battle between landowners and the oil and gas industry. Therefore, it is surprising to see the Governor endorse a candidate that is backed, again, by the very specific group of anti-business trial lawyers that fought so hard against the oil and gas industry on the legacy matter.

Again, this is not about simply endorsing or electing a judge. This is about looking at the broader picture of who these candidates are at their cores and who supports them during the election season. If Louisiana is to remain relevant in the business world on a national and international level, the business environment and the legal climate must improve. Supreme Court Justices must be elected that will be against junk litigation and make decisions that do not feed special interest groups. This December 8th election is not simply an election we should sleep through. The ramifications are deep and wide concerning the future success of our state.

 

Posted in: Presidents Articles

About the Author:

The Louisiana Oil & Gas Association (known before 2006 as LIOGA) was organized in 1992 to represent the Independent and service sectors of the oil and gas industry in Louisiana; this representation includes exploration, production and oilfield services. Our primary goal is to provide our industry with a working environment that will enhance the industry. LOGA services its membership by creating incentives for Louisiana’s oil & gas industry, warding off tax increases, changing existing burdensome regulations, and educating the public and government of the importance of the oil and gas industry in the state of Louisiana.

2 Comments on "Not Just Any Supreme Court Race"

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  1. James Taylor says:

    This is a very thought provoking piece. Thank you Don for taking the time to talk about these important topics for the people of our state. It surely makes us think!

  2. Don I am glad you noted who is supporting and financing Hughes campaign. Hughes is the worst sort of hypocrite He pretends to be a far right business conservative who is a great LSU supporter. Yet, in fact he is not . He is a average to poor judge who is supported by the plaintiff legacy suit bar. Guidry is presenting himself as a moderate who will treat all equally under the law. Thank you for letting your base have a glimpse into the campaign of the worst of the present state of body politic in America. I am quick to give Don a hard time for not being balanced. so it is only fair to thank him for this effort to point out the misleading Hughes campaign.

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