Financial Crimes: Millions in Attorney Fees Approved by Bent Federal Chief Judge for Not-So-Secret Legal Lover

US Bankruptcy Chief Judge David R Jones and long-term girlfriend and former law clerk, Houston lawyer Elizabeth Freeman’s financial crimes.

Deelen v. Jones


District Court, S.D. Texas

OCT 4, 2023 | REPUBLISHED BY LIT: OCT 21, 2023
OCT 21, 24, 2023

Above is the date LIT Last updated this article.

Van Deelen informed LIT on Oct 15, 2023 defendant Jones resigned as Chief Judge (Bankruptcy, S.D. Tex.), no doubt to secure his pension and benefits – as well as by the ‘recommendation’ of US Courts.

Judge Ellison sealed complaint without following procedure, now files retrospective and apparently retroactive order sealing complaint ‘for judicial security’, but LIT questions that analogy as Chief Judge David Jones resigned, he’s now a citizen facing Van Deelen’s complaint. See complaint at #29.

Amidst the extensive media coverage surrounding a financial crimes scandal implicating a Chief Judge and his former law clerk, a disconcerting reality persists within the Southern District federal court. Despite the scandal’s nationwide exposure and our firm belief that such actions transpired with the full knowledge and approval of judicial colleagues, an unsettling inertia prevails. The court and its judges seem unyielding in their inclination to persist in malicious and corrupt conduct.

This grievance, brought forth by Van Deelen, remains concealed from public scrutiny and acquisition on PACER. More alarmingly, this suppression occurs without the sanction of a court order, starkly contravening the bedrock principles of the rule of law. Such actions, however, are not isolated incidents but align with a pattern observed in the Texas Federal Judiciary. There persists a consistent refusal to uphold the duty of impartiality, ethical conduct, and adherence to the intended spirit of rules and laws.

LIT contends that an urgent and formal criminal inquiry, coupled with an independent investigation, is imperative for the Federal Courts in Texas, particularly the Southern District. The gravity of the situation demands immediate attention from the U.S. Government to ensure the integrity of the judicial system is preserved.

ORDER for Initial Pretrial and Scheduling Conference and Order to Disclose Interested Persons.

Initial Conference set for 1/12/2024 at 04:30 PM in Courtroom 3A Houston before Judge Keith P Ellison.

(Signed by Judge Keith P Ellison) Parties notified.(JacquelineMata, 4) (Entered: 10/04/2023)

Order (Oct. 23, 2023)

Unraveling Ethical Tangles: An In-depth Probe into the Fifth Circuit Judicial Complaint Against Chief Judge Jones

Introduction: A Sordid Web of Nepotism, Deceit, and Judicial Complicity

LIT has steadfastly asserted that nepotism and cronyism within the judiciary breed an environment ripe for fraud and corruption. While the judicial branch maintains its ability to self-regulate, a glaring contradiction emerges in the wake of the unfolding scandal surrounding Chief Judge Jones. This instance serves as a resounding confirmation that the judiciary, despite its assurances, grapples with an inherent inability to control its own ethical compass.

Chief Judge Owen-Richman-Hecht’s Dubious Defense

Chief Judge Priscilla Owen-Richman-Hecht, recently wedded to Chief Judge Nathan Hecht of the Texas Supreme Court, finds herself at the center of controversy. Her assertion that District judges involved in appeals and recusal motions were unaware of Judge David Jones’s relationship with Liz Freeman rings hollow in the face of evidence to the contrary. A deep-rooted connection spanning six years, marked by the joint acquisition of 6530 Rolla St in 2017, remains conspicuous. Intriguingly, this transaction lacks the customary Deed of Trust or note in Harris County’s real property records, suggesting a transaction conducted in cash.

Sealed Scandal: A Blatant Breach of Transparency

In a disconcerting turn of events, complainant Michael Van Deelen’s email to LIT anticipated the case petition would be sealed quickly, and as it happens, unlawfully restricted without a court order. LIT acknowledges the previous lack of due process in the treatment of pro se Van Deelen but underscores the continued support Chief Judge David Jones received from his judicial colleagues, despite their apparent knowledge of the veracity of facts surrounding Jones’s relationship with Liz Freeman—a truth widely known within and outside the legal profession.

Judicial Ochlocracy and Complicity

Chief Judge Jones’s call to his judicial colleagues, even after the revelation in the anonymous letter, underscores a disturbing phenomenon akin to ochlocracy, where mob rule supersedes justice. The subsequent assignment of the case to Bankruptcy mentor Judge Marvin Isgur, and the dismissal of Van Deelen’s motion to recuse without a formal memorandum, paints a picture of a judiciary enmeshed in its own machinations.

High-Powered Machinations: A Legal Landscape at Risk

A review by LIT unveils a network of high-powered attorneys, including David Beck of Beck Redden, engaged in pursuing and defending sanctions motions. The apparent orchestration of outcomes becomes apparent, culminating in the assignment of the appeal to Judge Andrew Hanen. His scathing 39-page opinion overwhelmingly favors the court’s actions against Van Deelen while dismissing the anonymous letter as baseless. However, the revelation of Judge Hanen’s familiarity with Chief Judge David Jones’s long-term relationship with Elizabeth Coleman Freeman adds another layer to this convoluted narrative.

Impending Legal Storm: Jackson Walker’s Existential Threat

As this preliminary investigative review unfolds, the specter of impending bankruptcy looms over Jackson Walker. The rapid resignation of David Jones only intensifies the scrutiny, and LIT anticipates a deluge of lawsuits pertaining to past cases involving Jackson Walker in Bankruptcy courts—potentially extending beyond the Southern District of Texas to other districts and nationwide. The seismic repercussions of these allegations reverberate through the legal landscape, challenging the very existence of Jackson Walker.

Michael Van Deelen’s lawsuit, which is directed at a member of the judiciary in the Southern District Court of Texas, Houston Division has only recently commenced. It should be recognized that the Chief Judge implicated by this lawsuit resigned on Sunday, Oct. 15, 2023 to escape investigation and keep his pension and benefits.

Due to the fact this case involved a public servant, a judge and his law clerk and their 6 year plus not-so-secret sexual and cohabiting relationship which led to corrupt financial practice before and by the court itself, we’re labeling it “Financial Crimes”.  Former Chief Judge Jones and Texas Lawyer Freeman should be criminally indicted, and we are sure that this should be extended to co-conspirators in the courts and at the law firm of Jackson Walker LLP, including any other outside counsel or ‘of counsel’ who were participants to this elaborate and lengthy scheme of fraud and corruption.

This article will be updated as required. Bookmark for updates.


Elizabeth Carol Freeman is an attorney in the areas of bankruptcy litigation, restructuring, reorganization, and workouts. With over 20 years of experience with out-of-court workouts and complex bankruptcy and reorganization matters, Liz assists clients with workouts of distressed loans, including the negotiation of amend and extend agreements.

Prior to establishing The Law Office of Liz Freeman, PLLC, Liz was a partner in the bankruptcy, restructuring, and recovery section of Jackson Walker’s Houston office. Before Jackson Walker, Liz served for six years as law clerk to Judge David R. Jones, Bankruptcy Judge for the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Texas, and was a partner in the bankruptcy section of Porter Hedges, LLP. She is Board Certified in Business Bankruptcy Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.

Liz Freeman to Speak on Claim Objections at Jay L. Westbrook Bankruptcy Conference
November 19, 2021 | Speaking Engagements


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At the Jay L. Westbrook Bankruptcy Conference, Jackson Walker partner Elizabeth Carol Freeman will discuss the interplay of 3007 with 502 and omnibus procedures, drafting easy-to-understand objections, and avoiding missteps as declarants. The program, “Claim Objections Done Right,” will be held at 11:15 a.m. on Friday, November 19, 2021. Fellow panelists will include Julie Harrison (Norton Rose Fulbright US) and Erin McKeighan (Alvarez & Marsal North America).

For more information about the conference, visit the UT Law CLE website. Jackson Walker proudly serves as a sponsor of the conference.

Meet Liz

Elizabeth Carol Freeman has over 20 years of experience with out-of-court workouts and complex bankruptcy and reorganization matters. Liz assists clients with workouts of distressed loans, including the negotiation of amend and extend agreements. Prior to joining Jackson Walker, she served for six years as law clerk to the Chief Bankruptcy Judge for the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Texas. Liz is Board Certified in Business Bankruptcy Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. She holds memberships with the State Bar of Texas, Houston Bar Association, American Bankruptcy Institute, and American Inns of Court.

Real Estate Owned and Significant Joint Cash Home Purchase (Money Laundering)

Chief Judge David Jones previously denied having a romantic relationship with Freeman, despite the two purchasing and living together since 2017 in a home valued in excess of $1 million.

This home was purchased jointly – by cash – to a home-building company owned by Jack Gopinath, CEO of Quintessa Homes of Texas and Fullerton Holdings Corporation, both listed in the real estate records.

A survivorship agreement attached to the deed of the house lists both Jones and Freeman as owners, confirming the two own the property jointly. If one of the two dies, the other inherits the property, the agreement says.

US bankruptcy judge approved potential $750 hourly legal fee for girlfriend

David R Jones resigned this week after an appeals court cited probable cause to believe misconduct
OCT 19, 2023 | REPUBLISHED BY LIT: OCT 21, 2023

A top US bankruptcy court judge approved an indirect fee arrangement for his live-in girlfriend that could have paid her $750 per hour in at least two recent high-profile cases, according to publicly filed court documents.

Neither disclosed their personal relationship to parties in the cases, despite US bankruptcy code requirements that advisers seeking to be paid by bankruptcy estates disclose connections to other participants in the proceedings.

David R Jones, the chief judge of the US bankruptcy court for the Southern District of Texas, resigned in the past week after he admitted to concealing a romantic relationship with a Houston bankruptcy attorney, Liz Freeman. Freeman was a longtime partner at Jackson Walker, a law firm which frequently appeared in Jones’s court and whose case billings he often signed off upon.

Freeman left Jackson Walker in late 2022 to start her own law firm.

In the bankruptcy cases of Diebold Nixdorf and Venator Materials this year, the Office of Liz Freeman was designated as a “special conflicts counsel”. In this role, she would be called upon as a third law firm if conflicts of interest prevented the companies’ main counsel and local counsel from handling a case matter.

Both companies selected Jackson Walker as their local counsel.

Client engagement letters in both cases, submitted to Judge Jones and filed on the bankruptcy docket, described Jackson Walker’s arrangement with Freeman’s firm — “subject to clearance of requisite conflict checks and disclosures in accordance with the requirements of the bankruptcy code” — in identical language.

Freeman ultimately never performed nor was paid for any work as a special conflicts counsel, according to her lawyer, Tom Kirkendall. Jones did not respond to a request for comment on his decision to approve the retention application.

Lawyers at Kirkland & Ellis, the lead bankruptcy counsel to Venator, and Jones Day, the lead bankruptcy counsel to Diebold, did not respond when asked for comment.

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals which oversees the bankruptcy court in South Texas, released its complaint against Jones on Friday.

Its chief judge, Priscilla Richman, stated that she had “probable cause to believe that misconduct by Judge Jones has occurred” when he had failed to publicly disclose his relationship with Freeman or recuse himself in matters where Jackson Walker was involved.

The complaint noted that “in another matter over which Judge Jones presided, it appears that Judge Jones approved a fee application submitted by The Law Offices of Liz Freeman. It does not appear that any party or any other counsel in that proceeding was apprised of Judge Jones’ relationship with Ms Freeman”.

A representative for the Fifth Circuit declined to specify the case referred to in the complaint.

Freeman spent roughly four years at Jackson Walker after six years as a clerk to Jones. The firm told the Financial Times that it had begun investigating a potential intimate relationship between Freeman and Jones in early 2021 and that immediately after launching the investigation, she was kept out of cases in front of him as a matter of policy. It declined to comment on the conclusion of the investigation.

“Our firm acted in a timely fashion once we learned of this issue, including conducting a full inquiry and consulting independent outside ethics counsel for their guidance. From the time we first learned of this allegation Ms Freeman was instructed not to work or bill on any cases before Judge Jones. We are confident that we acted responsibly,” Jackson Walker said.

A representative for Jackson Walker confirmed that it had never subsequently retained Freeman in the Diebold and Venator cases, even after Jones approved the application permitting her retention, in adherence to its 2021 policy.

It added that the engagement letter had been drafted before Jones was assigned to the respective cases. Jones, who has overseen other high-profile bankruptcies including Cineworld Group, Serta Simmons Bedding and Neiman Marcus, was only one of two judges in the Southern District of Texas venue who could have heard either of the two cases.

Tweet correction: Jim Wilkinson, not Wilkerson.

A Small Sample of Elizabeth “Liz” Freeman’s cases in S.D. BK Courts

In layperson terms, the phrase “Plaintiffs’ joint motion to revoke the Debtor’s Subchapter V election is denied” refers to a legal situation where one or more parties (the plaintiffs) have requested the cancellation or withdrawal of a legal status known as “Subchapter V election” made by a debtor. However, the court has decided not to grant this request, meaning that the debtor can maintain their chosen Subchapter V status.

Subchapter V typically refers to a section of the United States Bankruptcy Code, and when a debtor elects Subchapter V, it often implies that they are opting for a specific type of bankruptcy procedure, which is generally designed to be more streamlined and less burdensome for small businesses.

So, in simpler terms, the motion to cancel the debtor’s choice of a particular bankruptcy procedure (Subchapter V) has been rejected by the court, allowing the debtor to proceed with their chosen bankruptcy path.

The issue before the Court is narrow.

The Trustee and Southern Title Insurance Company disagree over the scope of services this Court authorized Jackson Walker to perform as special counsel to the Trustee.

Southern Title contends that Jackson Walker was not authorized to provide the Trustee with services related to tax and estate administration issues.

The Trustee maintains that Jackson Walker was authorized to perform these services, or that Jackson Walker is now entitled to retroactive expansion of the scope of its employment.

At the outset of its employment, Jackson Walker was authorized to perform a portion of the services to which Southern Title now objects.

Jackson Walker is retroactively authorized to perform tax-related services.

Jackson Walker is not retroactively authorized to perform the liquidation-related services.

Jackson Walker is awarded fees and expenses for its authorized services.

Elizabeth Carol Freeman for debtors.

Marvin Isgur, United States Bankruptcy Judge

This Memorandum Opinion addresses whether Ultra Resources, Inc., may reject an executory contract with Rockies Express Pipeline LLC for the transportation of Ultra’s natural gas through the Rockies Express Pipeline.


For the reasons set forth in the Court’s oral ruling and this Memorandum Opinion, the Court will authorize rejection.

Certificate of No Objection Regarding the Application to Employ The Law Office of Liz Freeman. PLLC

(Filed By IEH Auto Parts Holding LLC ).

(Related document(s):183 Application to Employ)

(Attachments: # 1 Proposed Order) (Freeman, Elizabeth) (Entered: 03/24/2023)

In legal terms, a “conflicts counsel” is an attorney or law firm that is hired to address and manage conflicts of interest that may arise in a legal representation.

Conflicts of interest can occur when an attorney or law firm simultaneously represents clients with competing interests, potentially compromising their ability to provide unbiased and loyal representation.

In the context of the order you provided, it appears that the court has authorized the retention and employment of the Law Office of Liz Freeman, PLLC as both co-counsel and conflicts counsel for the debtors and debtors in possession.

This means that Liz Freeman’s law office will serve in a dual capacity:

Co-Counsel: This implies that the Law Office of Liz Freeman will be actively involved in providing legal representation and support for the debtors and debtors in possession in the ongoing legal matter, likely related to bankruptcy proceedings.

Conflicts Counsel: This role involves managing and addressing any potential conflicts of interest that may arise during the legal representation. For example, if there are situations where the interests of different parties involved in the case could clash, conflicts counsel is responsible for navigating and resolving those conflicts to ensure fair and ethical legal representation.

The order, signed on April 3, 2023, by US Bankruptcy Judge Christopher Lopez, indicates the court’s approval of this arrangement, allowing the Law Office of Liz Freeman to take on these roles for the specified debtors and debtors in possession.

Order Authorizing the Retention and Employment of the Law Office of Liz Freeman, PLLC as Co-Counsel and Conflicts Counsel for the Debtors and Debtors in Possession

(Related Doc # 183).

Signed on 4/3/2023. (RosarioSaldana) (Entered: 04/03/2023)

Organized Crime Groups: In the context of organized crime, especially in East Asia, the term “triad” often refers to a criminal organization. Triads are traditional Chinese criminal societies that have been involved in various illegal activities, including but not limited to, drug trafficking, human smuggling, and racketeering. These groups are hierarchical and secretive.

Sep. 11, 2023:

An order directing joint administration of this case has been entered by the Court in accordance with FED. R. BANKR. P. 1015(b).

The docket in Case No. 23-90769 should be consulted for all matters affecting this case.

All future pleadings shall be filed in and all subsequent docket entries shall be made in the Lead Case. Interested parties are directed to the order directing joint administration for further information. (RosarioSaldana)

Chapter 11 Voluntary Petition Non-Individual Fee Amount $1738 Filed by Triad Retail, L.L.C..

(Freeman, Elizabeth) (Entered: 09/10/2023)

Tweet correction: Jim Wilkinson, not Wilkerson.

Lawsuit alleges undisclosed relationship involving federal judge that could cloud Corizon bankruptcy deal

– Corizon, a leading private prison health provider, pulled a Texas Two-Step, putting assets in YesCare and debts in Tehum.
– Tehum then filed for bankruptcy, potentially leaving hundreds of prisoners claiming malpractice with pennies on the dollar.
– A court document claims the judge mediating the settlement deal is in a romantic relationship with YesCare’s attorney.

OCT 6, 2023 | REPUBLISHED BY LIT: OCT 21, 2023

A complaint filed this week in federal court casts doubt over the neutrality of the judge who oversaw bankruptcy settlement talks involving Corizon, once the nation’s largest prison health care provider.

David Jones, the chief bankruptcy judge for the Southern District of Texas, and Elizabeth Freeman, his former law clerk and a successful bankruptcy attorney, have secretly been in a romantic relationship for years, according to the complaint, which was obtained by Insider.

Last year, Corizon began a controversial maneuver known as a Texas Two-Step, splitting the company into two parts, one with most of its assets, known as YesCare, and one with most of its debts, known as Tehum, which then filed for bankruptcy. The Two Step was effectively designed to protect YesCare’s assets, including public sector contracts worth more than $1 billion. According to a legal filing, Tehum director Isaac Lefkowitz said the Two Step can be used to “force plaintiffs into accepting lower settlements.”

Freeman represented YesCare Corp. in the settlement talks. And the talks were overseen by Jones.

At least 350 malpractice suits against Corizon and tens of millions of dollars in unpaid invoices are now folded into that proposed deal, which awaits approval by the creditors. It offers prisoners who were injured or died under Corizon’s care only $5,000 each.

While the complaint, submitted on Wednesday in the Southern District of Texas, is currently not available for public access on the docket, Insider obtained a copy from Michael Van Deelen, who filed the suit pro se. It alleges that Jones retaliated against him for “outing” the judge’s allegedly inappropriate relationship in a previous legal filing.

Jones was appointed in May by US Bankruptcy Judge Christopher Lopez to act as a mediator in the Tehum case, to oversee talks between the company and its largest creditors. Freeman signed off on Jones’ appointment as mediator, according to a stipulation and agreed order submitted in the bankruptcy docket. Neither Jones nor Freeman have disclosed their alleged relationship, according to Van Deelen’s complaint.

A civil complaint alleges that federal bankruptcy judge David Jones, who mediated the Tehum bankruptcy, is in a romantic relationship with Elizabeth Freeman, who represented YesCare in the bankruptcy.

Courtesy of Michael Van Deelen

Frank Ozment, who represents an Alabama prisoner, Tracy Grissom, who said she was subjected to negligent Corizon care, called the claims “very disturbing” if true.

“It’s very important that the mediator be neutral,” Ozment told Insider. “If the allegations suggest that the mediator was not neutral, then that could potentially bear a lot of weight on whether the plan is reasonable.”

Jones has denied any romantic relationship with Freeman, according to the complaint.

Jones, Freeman, and YesCare did not immediately respond to queries.

A million-dollar home

Van Deelen’s case dates back to June 2020, when he filed a shareholder suit in Texas state court against employees of engineering company McDermott International, alleging fraud and a breach of duty. Six months earlier, McDermott had declared bankruptcy. Van Deelen says he and his wife lost their entire investment.

McDermott was represented in the case by law firm Jackson Walker, one of the country’s top bankruptcy firms. Freeman clerked for Jones for six years, and she went on to become a partner at Jackson Walker, where she was one of the attorneys assigned to the McDermott bankruptcy. Van Deelen’s case was ultimately “removed” to Jones’ bankruptcy court, according to Van Deelen’s complaint.

Freeman now runs a Houston-based law office, The Law Office of Liz Freeman, that specializes in bankruptcy litigation and reorganization. Van Deelen claims Freeman left her prestigious job at Jackson Walker because “the relationship between her and Defendant Jones was made generally known.”

The document alleges that, while working the McDermott case, Freeman was Jones’ “live-in girlfriend” in a home worth more than a million dollars. Exhibits attached to the complaint show that Jones and Freeman have since June 2017 been listed as co-owners of a four-bed, two-bath, 3,800 square foot home on a leafy street in Houston that was assessed at $1.07 million.

Meanwhile, two people, “probably Freeman’s parents” moved into a $1.5 million home that Jones owns in Coldspring, an hour outside of Houston, according to another exhibit. The complaint alleges that Freeman had been living in that property since 2007, and that Jones purchased it in 2016.

Van Deelen said in the suit that he learned of the relationship after receiving an anonymous letter in March 2021, also attached as an exhibit. It describes alleged corruption that involved Jones, Jackson Walker, and Freeman “in a scheme in which corporate bankruptcy filers would hire Jackson Walker to represent them and then get favorable treatment from Defendant Jones because of his amorous relationship with Freeman.”

Matt Cavenaugh, a partner at Jackson Walker, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

According to the complaint, the letter detailed the “corruption involving Judge David R. Jones” and his romantic relationship with Freeman.

“Instead of personally avoiding the McDermott bankruptcy case because of his relationship with Jackson Walker attorney Freeman,” the complaint says, Jones “assigned the case to himself.” He didn’t disclose that he had a personal relationship with Freeman, according to the complaint.

Van Deelen submitted the letter in a motion seeking to get Jones removed from his case. Judge Marvin Isgur, another bankruptcy judge in the court, later denied it.

Van Deelen said that when he filed the complaint, he also hand delivered it to Jones in the Houston courthouse. After making his way through the maze of offices, Van Deelen said he turned a corner to find Jones eating a sandwich. When the judge saw who it was, “he turned white,” Van Deelen said.

He said Jones accepted the envelope without saying a word.

Top US bankruptcy judge, under ethics review, steps back from major cases

OCT 13, 2023 | REPUBLISHED BY LIT: OCT 21, 2023

NEW YORK, Oct 13 (Reuters) – U.S. Bankruptcy Judge David Jones in Houston, who oversees more major Chapter 11 cases than any other U.S. judge, said on Friday he is facing an ethics review over a previously undisclosed romantic relationship and is stepping down from handling large cases.

Jones said over the weekend he has been in a years-long romantic relationship and shared a home with bankruptcy attorney Elizabeth Freeman, who had been a law clerk for him.

Until recently, Freeman worked at Jackson Walker, a local law firm that filed many cases in Jones’ Houston courthouse.

Jones said at a court hearing in the bankruptcy case of drilling company Arethusa Offshore that he is under investigation from the New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and that all his bankruptcy cases involving large companies would be assigned to other judges during the investigation.

“I hope that you can appreciate that the integrity of the process is simply more important than a single case and you have my genuine apologies for the inconvenience that I am causing,” Jones told the company’s attorneys.

Chief 5th U.S. Circuit Judge Priscilla Richman, in a misconduct complaint made public later on Friday, said there was probable cause to believe Jones violated the codes of conduct that govern judges by, among other things, failing to avoid an appearance of impropriety.

Richman said that while Jones and Freeman were not married, the factors that apply to recusing from a case involving a judge’s spouse apply equally when a judge maintains both a household and an intimate relationship with someone they are not married to.

Yet, she wrote, Jones never recused himself from cases involving Jackson Walker or disclosed his relationship with Freeman. The judge approved attorneys’ fees sought by Jackson Walker for work on bankruptcy matters in which billing records showed Freeman performed “substantial” services, Richman said.

The Houston bankruptcy court on Friday also updated its case assignment rules to remove Jones from a two-judge panel that oversees all complex cases involving more than $200 million in debt.

Legal ethics experts have said Jones should have disclosed the relationship or recused himself from cases involving Jackson Walker.

A spokesman for Jackson Walker said the firm consulted outside ethics counsel after learning about the romantic relationship in March 2021.

“From the time we first learned of this allegation Ms. Freeman was instructed not to work or bill on any cases before Judge Jones,” Jackson Walker spokesman Jim Wilkinson said. “We are confident that we acted responsibly.”

Freeman, through her attorney, declined to comment.

Jones has been the busiest bankruptcy judge in the U.S. since January 2016, overseeing 11% of all Chapter 11 bankruptcies involving more than $100 million in liabilities, according to data from Debtwire, which provides research and intelligence on credit markets. He recently presided over the bankruptcies of JC Penney, Neiman Marcus, Party City and Chesapeake Energy, among many others.

The two-judge panel for complex cases is an outlier among U.S. bankruptcy courts, which typically assign cases randomly among all of their judges.

Bankruptcy Judge Marvin Isgur, who stepped down from the panel a year ago, will replace Jones, and all of Jones’ complex cases will be randomly assigned to Isgur or the panel’s other member, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Christopher Lopez.

Reporting by Dietrich Knauth; Additional reporting by Nate Raymond; Editing by Alexia Garamfalvi, Leslie Adler, Rod Nickel and William Mallard

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Financial Crimes: Millions in Attorney Fees Approved by Bent Federal Chief Judge for Not-So-Secret Legal Lover
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