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Toward Impeachment of Judge Berrigan

In the weeks following submission of his initial petition to the U.S. Judicial Conference, calling for an investigation of the Hon. Helen "Ginger" Berrigan for impeachable offenses in connection with her adjudication of his lawsuits against Tulane University during 1995 through 2001, Bernofsky issued a press release to numerous newspapers and organizations.  The Louisiana Record reported on this development, adding facts that previously had been suppressed from public view.  The article is reprinted below.

Former Tulane professor continues 20-year fight against judge


October 11, 2016

NEW ORLEANS — More than 20 years after Carl Bernofsky first filed suit for wrongful dismissal from his job as a biochemistry professor, he is still fighting what he believes is a grave injustice.

Bernofsky's target is a federal judge he claims should have recused herself from his case because of prior links with the university he was suing.  Now, Bernofsky has filed a petition asking for an impeachment investigation into U.S. District Judge Helen 'Ginger' Berrigan of the Eastern District of Louisiana.

He filed the petition with the Federal Judicial Center, which will decide whether to investigate the claims and whether to refer the matter to the U.S. Senate.

The case dates back to 1995 when Bernofsky first filed his wrongful dismissal suit against Tulane University.  Bernofsky filed four separate but related civil suits, all of which were presided over by Berrigan.  Within a six-year period, all the causes of action filed by Bernofsky were denied.

In 2000, Bernofsky discovered evidence of links between Berrigan and the university, particularly its law school.  Berrigan was a board member of Tulane's Amistad Research Center and an adjunct professor in Tulane's law school in 1995, which is when the claims were first filed, according to Bernofsky's complaint asking for her to be recused.

Bernofsky also claimed that Berrigan was paid $5,500 by Tulane Law School to teach a summer course on the Greek island of Thessaloniki.  Berrigan refused to recuse herself, a decision affirmed by the Fifth Circuit of Appeals in April 2001, finding "there was there was no error of any significance and Bernofsky presents no evidence of improper motive or defamation."

There was a dissent from then Chief Judge Carolyn King, who wrote, "A reasonable person would view the summer teaching assignment in Greece that Tulane Law School offered to Judge Berrigan, along with $5,500 to cover her expenses, as something of a plum."

"She accepted that assignment on the eve of her decision to grant summary judgment in favor of the administrators of the Tulane educational fund," King wrote.

"Under the circumstances ... I think that a reasonable person might question her impartiality.  I would reverse the judgment and remand with instructions to send the case to another judge," King stated.

Bernofsky believes his filing of the petition for impeachment will, at the very least, bring attention to what he claims was a grave injustice against him.

"This is something I have been thinking about for a very long time actually," Bernofsky told The Louisiana Record.  "It is a test of the law after wrongful treatment."

He is now waiting for the Federal Judicial Center to decide whether to move forward with an investigation.

"But I think really the next step would be creating pressure on the judiciary, through publicity," Bernofsky said.  "I really do not know what is going to happen.  There is a chance of action because of the judge's actions."

Bernofsky says there are various reasons for the time lapse between the conclusion of his cases against the university and his decision to file the petition for impeachment.  As the cases concluded, he was suffering from cancer.

"Then Katrina hit. We lost everything and moved to Shreveport.  I then worked on other cases of people claiming to be unjustly treated," Bernofsky said.  "All that took away from thinking about this, but I finally decided to put my foot down. Once you are involved with injustice, the wound never stops bleeding, and it is still festering."

Fifteen federal judges, including one associate justice of the Supreme Court, have faced impeachment proceedings by the Senate.  Eight were convicted, three resigned before trial and four were acquitted.

The first to be convicted, in 1804, was Judge John Pickering of New Hampshire.  He was convicted of mental instability and intoxication on the bench.  Judge G. Thomas Porteous of the Eastern District of Louisiana was the most recent to be convicted, found guilty in 2010 of accepting bribes and making false statements on penalty of perjury.

Copyright 2016, Louisiana Record

From: John Breslin, "Former Tulane professor continues 20-year fight against judge," The Louisiana Record, October 11, 2016, http://louisianarecord.com/stories/511000627-former-tulane-professor-continues-20-year-fight-againt_judge, accessed 10/27/2016.  Reprinted in accordance with the "fair use" provision of Title 17 U.S.C. § 107 for a non-profit educational purpose.

  • On November 2, 2016, Bernofsky submitted a second letter and petition to all 19 members of the Judicial Council of the Fifth Circuit, requesting them to recommend that the U.S. Judicial Conference investigate the potentially impeachable offenses committed by the Hon. Helen "Ginger" Berrigan.

  • On January 18, 2017, Bernofsky submitted an appeal to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals for a review the above petition, which had been designated as Complaint No. 15-17-90013 and dismissed by Chief Judge Carl E. Stewart.

  • On January 18, 2017, Bernofsky also submitted a letter and petition to the six new members of the Judicial Council of the Fifth Circuit, requesting them to recommend that the U.S. Judicial Conference investigate the potentially impeachable offenses committed by the Hon. Helen "Ginger" Berrigan.

  • On March 2, 2017, the Judicial Council of the Fifth Circuit dismissed Bernofsky's Complaint of Judicial Misconduct and petition for impeachment without denying any of the allegations made in his appeal.












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