On Friday, December 15, 2023, the US Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Texas ruled that Judge Marvin Isgur did not need to recuse himself from overseeing the bankruptcy case of 4E Brands.
The ruling came in response to a recusal motion filed by the estate of Joshua Maestas, who died after ingesting a 4E Brands hand sanitizer product. The Maestas estate argued Judge Isgur should recuse himself given his past relationship with the previous judge assigned to the 4E Brands case, David Jones.
Judge Jones resigned from the bench in October 2023 after admitting to an undisclosed long-term romantic relationship with a local bankruptcy attorney whose law firm, Jackson Walker, represented 4E Brands and many other companies in bankruptcy proceedings in the Houston court. An appeals court found Judge Jones had likely violated judicial conduct codes.
In his ruling, Chief Judge Eduardo Rodriguez found no evidence Judge Isgur was biased in his handling of the 4E Brands bankruptcy or that the personal relationship of Judges Isgur and Jones would impact the case. The two judges had worked together for over 30 years, with Judge Isgur hiring Judge Jones after law school and later collaborating on complex bankruptcy cases in Houston. However, Judge Rodriguez stated the friendship alone did not establish an appearance of bias.
Judge Rodriguez also defended how Judge Isgur had previously handled attempts to remove Judge Jones from an unrelated bankruptcy case in 2021. While the relationship was not known at the time, Judge Rodriguez found Judge Isgur had no extrajudicial knowledge of the situation.
The Maestas estate continues to seek repayment of around $800,000 in legal fees paid to Jackson Walker for representing 4E Brands in court. Meanwhile, the DOJ bankruptcy watchdog aims to further probe fees awarded to the firm in cases overseen by the scandal-plagued former Judge Jones. But on the matter of recusal, Judge Isgur will continue to lead proceedings in the high-profile 4E Brands bankruptcy.
Judge Isgur serves as a judge on the United States Bankruptcy Court, Southern District of Texas. He was initially appointed on February 1, 2004, and re-appointed on February 1, 2018. His current term will conclude on January 31, 2032.
A copy of the original filing can be found here.