James Cain – Nominee to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana

A Democrat-turned-Republican from a political family, Cain is the fourth Trump nominee to the Western District of Louisiana, which has undergone a significant amount of turnover in the last two years.

Background

James David Cain Jr. was born in DeRidder, LA on November 30, 1964.  Cain’s father, James David Cain Sr., was a politician who had served as a Democrat in the Louisiana State House and Senate before switching parties in 2003.[1]  Cain attended McNeese State University in Lake Charles, Louisiana, graduating in 1990.  He went straight from college into Southern University Law Center, getting his J.D. in 1993.

After graduating, Cain returned to Lake Charles, joining Lundy & Davis LLP, becoming a Partner in 1998.[2]  In 2007, Cain left and co-founded the firm Loftin, Cain & LeBlanc LLC in Lake Charles.  He currently serves as a Partner there.

History of the Seat

The seat Cain has been nominated for opened on July 31, 2017, with Judge Patricia Minaldi moved to senior status seeking treatment for “severe alcoholism.”[3]  Shortly after, Cain contacted Louisiana senators Bill Cassidy and John Kennedy to express his interest in a judicial appointment.[4]  After interviewing with a Committee set up by Cassidy, Cain was recommended to the White House in late November 2017.  Trump formally nominated Cain on Aug. 28, 2018.

Legal Experience

Cain has only worked in two positions since graduating from law school: at Lundy & Davis LLP. and at Loftin, Cain & LeBlanc LLC.  In the former position, Cain focused primarily on civil litigation, business litigation, and products liability, including representing $350000 in damages for a woman injured when she hit a defective stretch of the highway.[5]

After moving to Loftin Cain, Cain focused on representing the Lake Charles City Police Department and the Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Department against civil rights suits.[6]  One of Cain’s most notable cases at Loftin involved a suit against the City of Lake Charles for granting building permits for the construction of a retaining wall that ended up damaging a neighboring estate.[7]  Cain represented the City through trial, at which it was found to be 2% at fault for the damages for issuing the building permit.[8]

Political Activity

As noted above, Cain comes from a political family as his father served in the state legislature for almost thirty years.  For his own part, Cain started his career giving to Democrats but has given exclusively to Republicans over the last ten years.[9]  For example, Cain gave $5000 to Sen. Kennedy’s PAC in 2017, as well as donating $1800 to Rep. Stave Scalise (R-LA).[10]  In the past, Cain gave $2000 to Sen. John Edwards’ presidential campaign in 2003 and donated to Democratic Sen. Donald Cravins in 2008.[11]

Cain is also a member of the Federalist Society for Law and Policy.

Overall Assessment

Cain brings twenty-five years of legal experience to the federal bench in Louisiana and, as such, can be considered qualified for a judicial appointment.  Having represented both plaintiffs and defendants in civil cases, Cain’s career does not suggest a bias for one position over another.

That being said, Cain’s Federalist Society affiliations may raise some questions in the confirmation process.  Nevertheless, Cain looks fairly likely to win a comfortable confirmation.


[1] As a legislator, Cain notably sponsored a bill, approved by the House, to reduce the penalties for attacking a flag burner to $25.  See Peter Applebombe, A Dash of Flamboyance in the Lawmaking Stew, N.Y. Times, Jun 29, 1990.

[2] Sen. Comm. on the Judiciary, 115th Cong., James D. Cain: Questionnaire for Judicial Nominees 2.

[3] Michael Kunzelman, Louisiana Federal Judge Retires After Taking Leave for Treatment of Severe Alcoholism, The Advocate, Aug. 2, 2017, https://www.theadvocate.com/baton_rouge/news/article_b6ae40bc-7797-11e7-ada4-e392c1d133c8.html.

[4] See Cain, supra n. 1 at 21.

[5] Benoit v. State of Louisiana, through the Dep’t of Transp. And Development and Thomas, 805 So.2d 428. Judge David Painter (2000-2001).  

[6] 

[7] D. Husers and L. Husers v. The City of Lake Charles et al., 14th Judicial District Ct., Calcasieu Parish, Louisiana, Case No. 2006-5675.

[8] See id.

[10] Id.

[11] Id.

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