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Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell. (Special to the American Press)<br>

Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell. (Special to the American Press)

Editorial: Caldwell criticized for use of outside counsel

Last Modified: Wednesday, January 23, 2013 5:45 PM

A report shows that Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell has already spent more money on preparing a legal case against BP for its Gulf of Mexico oil leak than four other states combined.

The Associated Press also notes that of the $24 million bill Caldwell has already rung up, about 60 percent has gone to outside counsel.

By contrast, Mississippi has spent $765,000 on outside counsel. Florida has promised a cut of any future damage payments BP would be ordered to pay if it loses the case to outside law firms it has solicited to work on the case. Texas and Alabama, the two other states that were affected by the Deep Water Horizon oil spill, haven’t sought outside counsel.

The dichotomy hasn’t been lost on federal Judge Carl Barbier, who is presiding over most of the case. He criticized Caldwell for paying multiple outside law firms for legal work on the case while other state attorney generals have built their cases in-house.

In an email to AP, Caldwell defended the use of outside counsel, writing, ‘‘Properly handling this case requires expertise and experience in areas of mass tort and complex litigation, as well as class action and environmental law.’’ He added that he has no one on his staff well-versed in these areas.

University of Michigan law professor David Uhlmann said that with billions of dollars in damages at stake, it’s no surprise that legal fees for outside counsel would run in the millions of dollars.

The Kanner & Whiteley law firm has collected the most pay via Caldwell’s office at $7 million. That firm has never donated to Caldwell’s campaign, but eight of 10 other firms that have made campaign donations to Caldwell received contract work from the Louisiana AG’s office for the BP case.

‘‘I’m fairly certain that my contributions to Buddy Caldwell didn’t have any effect on the amount of work we’ve gotten or that we’ve gotten any work at all,’’ said Ike Spears whose law firm has gotten $37,012 of work from the BP case. Spears’ firm donated $5,000 previously to Caldwell’s campaign.

Allegations of favoritism to law firms hired as outside counsel have dogged previous Louisiana attorney generals. Whether it applies here, only Caldwell knows.

Regardless, how the state fares in the BP case and the role that outside counsel plays in shaping the state’s strategy and argument will go a long way in determining the wisdom in hiring the contract help.

• • •

This editorial was written by a member of the American Press Editorial Board. Its content reflects the collaborative opinion of the Board, whose members include Bobby Dower, Ken Stickney, Jim Beam, Crystal Stevenson and Donna Price.

Posted By: Donald Stone On: 2/1/2013

Title: Caldwell a member of NAAG and how much does LA pay to NAAG for dues

There's a can of worms involving the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG), of which Caldwell is a member and how they dole out litigation work to their buddies in the private sector. Also the interesting relationship between NAAG president Douglas Gansler and Mark C. and Gilbert Sapperstein and their alleged ties to three other NAAG members past and present Most unique is just how a private entity & exclusive club like NAAG comprised of approx. 56 State attorneys Generals (dues paid for with federal/state tax dollars) came to control a large portion of the tobacco/mortgage settlements. Interesting info. on Mark & Gilbert Sapperstein can be found by searching City Paper (Baltimore).

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