Martin Feldman

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Federal Judge Martin Leach-Cross Feldman

Judge Martin Feldman is a federal district court judge who was appointed to the bench by President Ronald Reagan. This is a lifetime position. The annual salary, not counting an excellent government benefits and retirement program, is $169,300 (as of 2010).[1] The judge's full name is Martin Leach-Cross Feldman. [2]


Oil and Gas Investments

On June 23, 2010, Judge Feldman issued a ruling against the temporary six-month moratorium new deepwater drilling in the wake of the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster. Judge Feldman has a long history of investing in oil and gas exploration, including companies involved in deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico and elsewhere. Based on his publicly available financial disclosure reports filed in 2009[3] and the preceding six years, he has earned tens of thousands of dollars in dividends from his stock speculation in this field.

His failure to recuse himself based on a financial conflict of interest or the appearance of one based on his investment history has led to substantial criticism, including calls for his impeachment.[4]

His energy investments detailed in the financial disclosure form he signed are detailed below. It has also been reported that this is not the first time the judge has refused to recuse himself from cases involving the oil industry that he has invested extensively in,[5] but other judges in his district have recused themselves due to such conflicts.

Details from Financial Disclosure Report Filed May 2009

Earnings from investments: up to $174,000 (Due to the way the disclosure form obscures actual amounts, the range of his investment income adds up to between $37,524, if he received the bare minimum at each disclosure threshold, and $174,000, if he received the maximum. The investment earnings constituted between about 20% of his federal salary and over 100% of it.)[6]

Oil exploration-related investment income in calendar year 2008[7]

  • Transocean, earned up to $1000 on an investment of up to $15,000; Transocean describes itself as "the world's largest off-shore drilling" and owned the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig leased to BP that is at the heart of the disaster in the Gulf. Judge Feldman's investment in Transocean dates back to 2004, according to his older financial disclosure forms.
  • Ocean Energy Notes, earned between $1,000 and $2,500 on an investment of up to $50,000; this company describes itself as developing "submersible drilling rigs" and working on drilling platforms (what it terms "Floating Production, Storage and Offloading" (FPSO) vessels).
  • Hercules Offshore, earned a dividend of between $5,001 and $15,000 on the sale of up to $15,000 in stock and also purchased up to $15,000 in company stock, earning up to a $2,500 dividend; Hercules describes itself as having the largest fleet of jack-up or mobile rigs in the Gulf of Mexico. Judge Feldman had multiple transactions involving Hercules, which he began investing in 2008.
  • Halliburton Co., earned a gain of up to $1,000 on the sale of up to $15,000 in stock; Halliburton describes itself as an expert in deepwater drilling and as one of the world's largest energy companies.
  • KBR Inc., earned up to $1,000 on a new investment of up to $15,000; KBR describes itself as a leader in oil refining.
  • Atlas Energy Resources, earned up to $1,000 on a new investment of up to $15,000; Atlas describes itself as a natural gas exploration company and one of the leading producers of natural gas from Marcellus Shale. (For more information about the threat natural gas drilling poses to drinking water, please check out the SourceWatch Water portal).
  • TXCO Resources, Inc., earned up to $1,000 on a new investment of up to $15,000; TXCO describes itself as a player in shale and oil sands exploration.
  • El Paso Corp., earned up to $1,000 on a new investment of up to $15,000; El Paso describes itself as "the nation’s leading interstate natural gas pipeline franchises" including extensive Gulf coast pipeline assets. Judge Feldman also sold his interest in a subsidiary, El Paso Pipeline Partners LP, earning up to $1000 on an investment of up to $15,000.
  • Chesapeake Energy Corp., earned up to $1,000 on a new investment of up to $15,000; Chesapeake describes itself as a leader in natural gas production.
  • Prospect Energy, earned up to $1,000 on an investment of up to $15,000; Prospect is an energy finance company.
  • NGP Capital Resouces, earned up to $2,500 on the sale of an investment of up to $15,000; NGP describes itself as focusing on investing in oil and natural gas companies.
  • Pengrowth Energy Trust,earned up to $1,000 on an investment of up to $15,000 as part of a share distribution; Pengrowth describes itself as "an oil and gas" operating company.
  • Blackrock (various accounts), earned between $11,000 and $32,500 on investments worth up to $45,000; Blackrock has been one of BP's largest shareholders.

In addition, Judge Feldman held investments in Citigroup and JP Morgan Chase, among other banks.

National Security

Judge Feldman was recently chosen by U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts to serve on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which handles national security cases including the controversial changes to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act in 2008 that permitted increased warrantless surveillance of Americans' electronic conversations and communications. Roberts has chosen almost exclusively Republican judicial appointees for this specialized court.

Federalist Society

Judge Feldman has been involved with the Federalist Society, a group of right-wing lawyers and judges.


Judge Feldman has reportedly frequently boasted of his close friendship with controversial U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

He recently converted to Catholicism, like Robert Bork and Newt Gingrich.

Articles and resources

Lisa Graves, "Impeach the Oil-Investing Judge Who Declared Deep Sea Drilling Ban Void," PR Watch (June 23, 2010),

Lisa Graves, "Just the Facts on Judge Feldman's Financial Investments," PR Watch (June 24, 2010),

Related SourceWatch articles


  1. Adam Litpak How Much Should Judges Make? New York Times, January 19, 2009
  2. Judgepedia Martin Feldman, accessed June 28, 2010
  3. Judicial Watch Financial Reports of Judge Martin L.C. Feldman, accessed June 28, 2010
  4. Lisa Graves, Impeach the Oil-Investing Judge Who Declared Deep Sea Drilling Ban Void PR Watch, June 23, 2010
  5. Laurel Brubaker Calkins and Margaret Cronin Fisk U.S. Request to Delay Lifting of Drilling Ban Denied,, June 25, 2010
  7. Lisa Graves, "Just the Facts on Judge Feldman's Financial Investments," PR Watch (June 24, 2010),

External resources

External articles