Equal Justice Under Law
About Bernofsky   Case Calendar   More Options


1998 Lawsuit
Appeal Brief
Reply Brief
Petition for Rehearing
2001 News Report

Of Louisiana's four major law schools, only Tulane sponsors trips for judges throughout the U.S. and abroad.
Tulane's Cultivation of Judicial Ties
Paid travel for judges by Tulane University may help insure favorable treatment by the courts.

Loyola University, Louisiana State University (LSU), and Tulane University all have programs that invite judges to their campuses to lecture and participate in seminars at their respective law schools.  Of these universities, only Tulane appears to also sponsor travel for judges to locations elsewhere in the United States and destinations abroad.

The Community Rights Counsel [1] has assembled information about trips for judges paid for by various organizations. Its Web site (www.tripsforjudges.org) lists the following information for the period of 1992 through 1997.

Loyola University sponsored 4 trips for judges to its campus in New Orleans to lecture or participate in seminar programs. There was no sponsorship of trips to other locations in the U.S. or elsewhere.

LSU sponsored 9 trips for judges to its campus in Baton Rouge to lecture or participate in seminar programs. There was no sponsorship of trips to other locations in the U.S. or elsewhere.

Southern University does not appear to have sponsored any trips for judges during the 1992-1997 period.

Tulane University sponsored 35 trips for judges: 18 to its campus in New Orleans to lecture or participate in seminar programs, 5 to other locations in the U.S. to attend conferences or seminars, and 12 to Italy, France, England, and Greece, to participate in various teaching programs.  All of Tulane's foreign travel went to judges of courts that serve Tulane in federal matters: the Federal District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, and the U.S. Supreme Court.

From 2000 to 2004, Tulane announced the funding of foreign travel for 19 judges [2].  Recipients of trips to England, Greece and Italy include U.S. Supreme Court Justices Stephen Breyer, Harry Blackmun (1992), Ruth Bader Ginsburg (1999, 2002), William Rehnquist (1995, 1997, 2004) and Antonin Scalia (1987, 1991, 1997, 2001, 2004) [2].

In addition, many sponsored trips go unreported.  For example, in 1999 five judges from the Federal District Court and Appellate Court were invited to participate as faculty in Tulane's annual three-day seminar program know as "By the Bay," which is held in the resort location of Point Clear, Alabama.

In 1998, Judge Berrigan traveled to China to visit with members of the Shanghai High People's Court.  The trip was of potential benefit to Tulane's business interests in China.  Travel costs and per diem expenses were arranged through a private, nonprofit foundation, the National Committee on United States-China Relations.  Neither the junket nor its monetary value were reported in Judge Berrigan's 1998 Financial Disclosure Report.

The extent of Tulane's judicial sponsorship shows that it aggressively pursues a policy of financing foreign travel for judges.  Tulane even sponsored a trip for Judge Ginger Berrigan to Greece while she was presiding over Bernofsky's 1998 lawsuit against it for retaliation and defamation.  Bernofsky has sought Judge Berrigan's recusal ever since he discovered her association with Tulane.  Her recusal was a central issue in Bernofsky's 2000 appeal of her summary judgment in favor of Tulane [3], and it remained a central issue in his 2001 petition to the U.S. Supreme Court.

According to Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, "the search for greater public trust and confidence in the judiciary must be pursued consistently with the idea of judicial independence."  By accepting perquisites such as trips to resort locations paid for by potential beneficiaries of their rulings, judges provide the public with ample reason to question their integrity and whether their judicial opinions have been influenced by ties to benefactors.  Travel gratuities have also been recognized as an effective and stealthy means of influencing lawmakers [4].

Tulane complements its paid trips for judges with other financial benefits in the form of scholarship gifts to the families of judges.  Such gifts, with their influence on the recipients, may be illegal.  The cozy relationship between judges and wealthy institutions compromises the constitutional principle of equal treatment under the law, a situation that usually becomes clear once such an institution becomes party to a proceeding.  This relationship will not change until it comes under public scrutiny, is seen as unacceptable, and ultimately succumbs to public pressure.

Tulane's expenditures to influence the judiciary is paralleled by its spending to maintain political influence.  For example, in fiscal 2001, Tulane spent $592,943 for "Direct contact with legislators, their staffs, government officials, or a legislative body," and comparable sums were spent for lobbying in previous years [5].  In contrast, Loyola University (also private) spent nothing in this category.  Even Emory University, a private university in Atlanta that is often cited in comparisons with Tulane, spent nothing in this category [6].


  1. See: Pamela Coyle, "Group slams judicial trips; New database details U.S. judges' travels," The Times-Picayune, New Orleans, August 5, 2000, p. A-1.

  2. See catalogs: Tulane Law School Summer School Abroad 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2004.

  3. "Ruling under fire as 'conflict of interest'; Ex-Tulane professor asks for review of suit dismissal," The Advocate, Baton Rouge, La., May 9, 2001, p. 7-B.

  4. R. Jeffrey Smith and Derek Willis, "Lawmakers are frequent fliers on corporate jets," The Times-Picayune, New Orleans, May 9, 2005, p. E-16 (reprinted from The Washington Post).

  5. Administrators of the Tulane Educational Fund, IRS Form 990, for 2001 (See also: 1997-2000): Schedule A, Part VI-B, line g.

  6. Loyola University, IRS Form 990, for 2001 (See also: 1998-2000): Schedule A, Part VI-B, line g;  Emory University, IRS Form 990, for 2001 (See also: 1997-2000): Schedule A, Part VI-B, line g.
  7. Effective January 1, 2007 the sources of paid travel expenses disclosed by judges will be kept on file for only three years, thus restricting the ability of future researchers to compile data about judges' connections to organizations that have financed their travel and other activities.  See: "Judicial Conference Policy on Judges' Attendance at Privately Funded Educational Programs," http://www.uscourts.gov/Press_Releases/judbrappc906c.pdf, accessed 03/14/07.

Help Balance the Scales of Justice!
Help Balance the Scales of Justice!
Censure Judge Berrigan? Send a message to Congress now!
Send a Message to Congress!

Web site created November, 1998     This section last modified March, 2007
|  Home  |  Site Map  |  About Bernofsky  |  Curriculum Vitae  |  Lawsuits  |  Case Calendar  |

|  Judicial Misconduct  |  Judicial Reform  |  Contact  |  Interviews  |  Disclaimer  |
This Web site is not associated with Tulane University or its affiliates

© 1998-2014 Carl Bernofsky - All rights reserved
Send me an e-mail