USA: Trump administration nominates lawyer for big oil companies as Ninth Circuit Judge
Author: Dana Drugmand, Climate Liability News, Published on: 7 February 2019
"Ninth Circuit Nominee Has History of Defending Big Oil, Including in Liability Cases", 6 Feb 2019
…Daniel P. Collins, a California attorney…[who] has represented Royal Dutch Shell in previous and current litigation against fossil fuel corporations…[was] initially nominated as Ninth Circuit judges last October…Trump re-nominated Collins and Los Angeles attorney Kenneth Kiyul Lee on January 30…Should Collins be confirmed, legal experts said he would likely be compelled to recuse himself from hearing any cases involving the fossil fuel industry.
Collins defended Occidental Petroleum in a case brought by 25 indigenous Peruvians,…for damages from widespread poisoning and contamination of their waterways and lands in the Amazon. Collins also defended Shell in the case Native Village of Kivalina v. ExxonMobil et al. in which an indigenous Alaskan community facing displacement from coastal erosion and rising seas unsuccessfully sought damages from fossil fuel companies. And in a case against energy and utility companies brought by plaintiffs who lost their homes in Hurricane Katrina, Comer v. Murphy Oil et al., Collins was involved as counsel for Shell…
More recently, Collins has continued to serve as counsel to Shell in climate liability lawsuits filed by the California municipalities…The California cases are currently before the Ninth Circuit, which is set to decide whether the cases will be tried in state or federal court.
[Pat] Parenteau, [professor at Vermont Law School], pointed to statutory law on the federal rules of judicial conduct, which says a judge “shall disqualify himself in any proceeding in which his impartiality might reasonably be questioned,” or has served as a lawyer in any capacity creating a conflict of interest in cases in front of that court. The nomination of Collins has been opposed by both California Senators Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris, who object to Collins’ judicial temperament…