U.S. Magistrate Judge Dana Douglas has practiced before Louisiana state and federal courts for two decades. She has now been tapped for elevation to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.
Dana Douglas graduated from Miami University in 1997 and received a J.D. from Loyola University New Orleans College of Law in 2000.
After graduating, Douglas completed a two-year clerkship with Judge Ivan Lemelle on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana. After her clerkship, Douglas joined Liskow & Lewis, an energy firm in New Orleans. In 2003, Douglas also joined the New Orleans Civil Service Commission, serving for ten years.
In 2019, Douglas became a federal magistrate judge with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana. She serves in that capacity today.
History of the Seat
Douglas has been nominated for a Louisiana seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. This seat opened on with Judge James Dennis’ announcement of her intent to take senior status upon confirmation of her successor. Due to the nature of Dennis’ announcement, the vacancy will not open until Douglas is confirmed.
After her clerkship,Douglas spent her entire legal career at Liskow & Lewis in New Orleans, primarily practicing commercial litigation. For example, Douglas worked alongside future federal judge Brian Jackson in suing to annual a tax sale in New Orleans. See Brookewood Invs. Co. LLC v. Sixty-Three Twenty-Four Chef Menteur Highway, LLC., 958 So. 2d 1200 (La. App. 2007). Douglas also notably represented Dow Chemicals in defending against a class action alleging damages from a tank failure from a chemical facility in St. Charles Parish. See Guidry v. Dow Chem. Co., 214 So. 3d 78 (La. App. 2017).
From 2003 to 2013, Douglas served as a Commissioner on the New Orleans Civil Service Commission, which is charged with reviewing employee appeals of disciplinary actions. In this role, Douglas authored an opinion affirming the suspension and termination of a police officer for committing a battery against a civilian. See Johnson v. Dep’t of Police, 2 So. 3d 501 (La. App. 2008). In a different case, Douglas affirmed disciplinary actions against officers who formed a limited liability company to administer their paid off-duty police details. See Patin v. Dep’t of Police, 159 So. 3d 476 (La. App. 2013).
Douglas has served as a magistrate judge on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana for the last three years. In this role, Douglas has presided over discovery disputes. For example, Douglas denied an effort by Amtrak to subpoena medical records from an employee, finding portions of the subpoena to be unnecessary. See Mike Curley, Amtrak Can’t Get Juvenile Med Docs in Employee Injury Suit, Law360, Oct. 12, 2021. In another case, Douglas ordered the production of documents in response to the plaintiff’s request in a maritime accident case. See Mullen v. Daigle Towing Serv., Civil Action No. 19-11954, 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 258229 (E.D. La. June 1, 2020).
As a magistrate judge, Douglas also handled agency appeals, including appeals from denials of social security benefits. In one case, Douglas recommended the denial of a social security appeal where the plaintiff had failed to follow recommended treatment. See Brooks v. SSA, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 183467 (E.D. La. Aug. 23, 2019). In another case, she recommended that an ALJ finding that the plaintiff was not disabled be sent back to the ALJ for elaboration of the decision. See Reese v. SSA, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 230546 (E.D. La. Dec. 20, 2019).
In 2009, Douglas authored a paper encouraging law firms to recruit and support minority and female employees, noting that having a supportive working environment for a diverse workforce makes business sense for the companies. See Dana M. Douglas, Diversity Refined: The Business Side: Making the Business Case for the Recruitment and Retention of Minorities and Women, 56 LA Bar Jnl. 424 (April/May 2009).
As a red-state appellate nominee, Douglas, in theory, doesn’t need support from her home-state senators to get a hearing. For their part, Senators Bill Cassidy and John Kennedy, both Republicans, have issued statements that don’t promise support but also don’t indicate any opposition to a hearing. If Douglas is able to get their support, she is likely to skate to confirmation. If not, she may still be confirmed this Congress, but will likely have to rely on Democrats prioritizing her confirmation.