A New Orleans federal judge presiding over lawsuits related to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill said he sold his investment in companies linked to the disaster to avoid any appearance he might be biased.
“So there is no perception of a conflict in these cases, yesterday I instructed my broker to sell the few Transocean and Halliburton bonds in my account,” U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier said in an e-mail.
BP Plc and Transocean Ltd. oil-spill lawsuits may be combined before a judge from outside the Gulf Coast states, because judges in the region are withdrawing from cases, citing conflicts of interest.
Six of 12 active judges assigned to the federal judicial district based in New Orleans already have removed themselves from spill-damage lawsuits, according to a court official and public records. The judges found conflicts tied to oil investments or personal relationships with lawyers or companies involved.
Several additional federal judges in districts based in Lafayette, Louisiana, Mobile, Alabama and Pensacola, Florida, have also disqualified themselves from oil-spill cases, according to public records.