Keith Ellison

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Keith Ellison
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Current Court Information:
United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas
Title:   Judge
Position:   Seat #12
Station:   Houston, TX
Appointed by:   Bill Clinton
Active:   07/07/1999 - Present
Preceded by:   Norman Black
Personal History
Born:   1950
Hometown:   New Orleans, LA
Undergraduate:   Harvard 1972
Law School:   Yale Law, 1976

Keith P. Ellison is an Article III federal judge for the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas. He joined the court in 1999 after being nominated by President Bill Clinton.

Early life and education

Born in New Orleans, Louisiana, Ellison graduated from Harvard University with his bachelor's degree in 1972. He was awarded a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford in 1974, where he studied at Magdalen College. Ellison received his Juris Doctor from Yale Law School in 1976.[1]

Professional career

Ellison worked as a law clerk for Judge Skelly Wright of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals from 1976 to 1977, and later for Justice Harry Blackmun of the Supreme Court of the United States from 1977 to 1978. From 1978 to 1999, Ellison worked as a private practice attorney in the State of Texas.[1]

Judicial career

Southern District of Texas

Ellison was nominated to the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas by Bill Clinton on January 26, 1999, to a seat vacated by Norman Black. Ellison was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on June 30, 1999, on a Senate vote, and received commission on July 7, 1999.[2]

Notable cases

Suit against BP by investors following Gulf of Mexico spill (2010)

     United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas (In re BP p.l.c. Securities Litigation, Civil Action No. 4:10-md-2185)

On February 13, 2011, Judge Ellison ruled that BP PLC would face claims of fraud by investors who claimed the company lied about its capabilities to respond to accidents before and after its 2010 major spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

In his ruling, Judge Ellison rejected investor claims that BP lied about its commitment to safety, but found the company possibly exaggerated its ability to respond to a large-scale spill. His ruling allowed for the suit to move forward for holders of BP American depository receipts, but denied ordinary stock holders due to a lack of jurisdiction in his court. This suit was brought by five Ohio pension plans, and one New York State pension plan.

According to the investors who filed suit, BP hid the actual size of the accident to limit the damage to its stock price. They further claimed that "BP publicly declared to a commitment to safety while cutting budgets and personnel, and rejecting internal complaints"[3]

BP lawsuit jurisdiction

On September 15, 2011, the court dismissed a lawsuit filed by U.S. shareholders against BP over the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill. In dismissing the case, the court said it was more appropriate for the shareholders to file suit in the U.K., that being where the company is based. In the court's own words, from Judge Keith Ellison, "English law governs this dispute and will determine whether the individual defendants breached their fiduciary duties and harmed BP in the process." The ruling did, however, state that should U.K. courts refuse to hear the case, U.S. courts could reassert jurisdiction[4]

McNamee motion to dismiss Clemens's defamation claims (2009)

     United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas (Clemens v. McNamee, Civil Action No. 4:08-cv-00471)

Judge Ellison granted in part and denied in part Brian McNamee's motion to dismiss third-party publication defamation claims that were filed by Roger Clemens, providing Clemens leave to amend the complaint as to the denied claims alleging publication to Pettitte.[5]

On June 30, 2009, Judge Ellison rejected a claim filed by seven-time Cy Young Award winner Roger Clemens against Brian McNamee, thus allowing McNamee, a former trainer, to file his own lawsuit against Clemens.[6] Judge Ellison's June 30 ruling also reaffirmed an earlier ruling against Clemens. Ellison said that if Clemens "...believes that the federal investigators or the Mitchell Commission overstepped the bounds of the law, he is free to bring suit against those enemies, subject to possible immunity."[6]

The case involved claims by former trainer McNamee that he injected Clemens with steroids and human growth hormone from 1998 to 2001. Clemens denied using performance-enhancing drugs.[7]

See also

External links


Federal judicial offices
Preceded by:
Norman Black
Southern District of Texas
Seat #12
Succeeded by:

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