Helen Ginger Berrigan

Helen Georgena Roberts Berrigan (born April 15, 1948), known professionally as Helen Ginger Berrigan[2] and Ginger Berrigan,[3][4][5] is an inactive Senior United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana.

Helen Ginger Berrigan
Helen Ginger Berrigan.jpg
Senior Judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana
Assumed office
August 23, 2016
Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana
In office
Preceded byEdith Brown Clement
Succeeded bySarah Vance
Judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana
In office
March 10, 1994 – August 23, 2016
Appointed byBill Clinton
Preceded byPatrick Eugene Carr
Succeeded byWendy Vitter
Personal details
Helen Georgena Roberts[1]

(1948-04-15) April 15, 1948 (age 73)
New Rochelle, New York
EducationUniversity of Wisconsin-Madison (BA)
American University (MA)
Louisiana State University Law School (JD)

Helen Ginger Berrigan serves as a District Court Judge in the Eastern District of Louisiana in the United States. Helen became appointed to this position by the then president, Bill Clinton, in 1994. Between 2001 and 2008, Helen dutifully served as the Chief Judge of the Eastern District. Before this appointment, she had been serving as a criminal defense attorney.[6] During her career, she has also served as a freelance reporter to various publications based in different regions. She has authored the Louisiana Criminal Trial Practice. Apart from her career as a lawyer and journalist, Berrigan has also led in various associations like the New Orleans Association for Women Attorneys.

Early life and educationEdit

Born in New Rochelle, New York, Berrigan received a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1969, a Master of Arts from American University in 1971, and a Juris Doctor from Louisiana State University Law School in 1977.[7] In China, Turkey, Malawi, Azerbaijan, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, she has finished "rule of law" trainings that allow her to practice law within these countries.[8]


Following her graduation from Louisiana State University Law School, Berrigan was a Staff attorney of Governor's Pardon, Parole and Rehabilitation Commission from 1977 to 1978.[7] She was in private practice as a criminal defense attorney[8] in New Orleans, Louisiana from 1978 to 1994.[7] She was also a freelance journalist for local publications, as well as a Legislative Aide to Senator Joe Biden.[8] Aside from her work as a Senior Judge, she is a frequent speaker in locally sponsored Continuing Legal Education programs,[8] and she currently serves as an adjunct professor at LSU and Loyola Schools of Law.[8]

In addition to her private practice and journalism, Berrigan has held positions at several legal organizations. Some legal organizations she has worked for include The Louisiana Association for Criminal Defense Lawyers which focuses on improving cooperation between lawyers through educational programs that promote the common good and societal well being. Another focus of the organization is to assist the courts, and law enforcement agencies by establishing their legitimacy through just law and the protection of individual rights guaranteed by the Louisiana and United States Constitutions. Another legal organization Berrigan worked for was The American Civil Liberties Union which was founded in the 1920s and has fought to ensure the promise of the Bill of Rights and to expand its reach to people historically denied protection from the government.

Federal judicial serviceEdit

On November 18, 1993, Berrigan was nominated by President Bill Clinton to a seat on the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana vacated by Patrick Eugene Carr.[7] She was confirmed by the United States Senate on March 10, 1994, and received her commission the same day.[7] She served as Chief Judge from 2001 to 2008[7] and took senior status, a form of semi-retirement, on August 23, 2016, under President Obama.[9] During her time as an active judge for the Eastern District of Louisiana, she was largely considered among the most liberal of those serving New Orleans.[10]

Notable casesEdit

In February 2014,[7] Berrigan served as the judge in the USA v. Nagin criminal trial concerning fraud of former New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin during Hurricane Katrina,[9] in which Nagin was found to have participated among six others in a conspiracy and 59 related acts spanning his entire time as mayor.[11] Nagin's requests for supplemental time prior to the trial in October 2013 were denied, and it continued as a Speedy Trial.[11] The case was based on allegations that Nagin had accepted over $500,000 in gifts in exchange for official favors, as well as committed tax and wire fraud[12][13] contrary to his promises when assuming office that he would reform the corrupt New Orleans City Hall.[14] He was found guilty on 20 of 21 charges, and acquitted on one.[14][12] Berrigan sentenced him to 10 years in prison, a sentence some believe was too low, in July 2014.[7][15] This case is considered noteworthy because it is the first trial in which a New Orleans mayor was tried and convicted on corruption charges.[7]


  1. ^ Confirmation hearings on federal appointments: hearings before the Committee on the Judiciary, United States Senate, One Hundred Third Congress, first session on confirmations of appointees to the federal judiciary.
  2. ^ Senior Status Announcement
  3. ^ Oubre v. Entergy Operations, Inc.
  4. ^ US Attorney, E.D. La., Press Release December 19, 2001
  5. ^ "Loretta Whyte - Queen of the Court". The Advocate. 2013.
  6. ^ Baier, Paul R. "Hellen "Ginger" Berrigan." 21 February 2008. American Bar Association. Document. 8 November 2017.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Helen Berrigan - Ballotpedia". Retrieved 2017-11-01.
  8. ^ a b c d e "Helen "Ginger" Berrigan" (PDF). American Bar.
  9. ^ a b jsimerman@theadvocate.com, JOHN SIMERMAN |. "'Senior status' for Judge Helen 'Ginger' Berrigan opens second seat on federal bench in New Orleans". The Advocate. Retrieved 2017-11-01.
  10. ^ report, Advocate staff. "Federal Judge Helen 'Ginger' Berrigan takes leave; cases to be reassigned". The Advocate. Retrieved 2017-11-01.
  11. ^ a b "United States of America, Versus C. Ray Nagin" (PDF). US Government Publishing Office. October 24, 2013.
  12. ^ a b Berman, Mark (2014-07-09). "Former New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin sentenced to 10 years in prison". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2017-11-01.
  13. ^ "Ray Nagin files appeal notice". thetowntalk.com. Retrieved 2017-11-01.
  14. ^ a b grussell@theadvocate.com, Gordon Russell. "Ex-New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin guilty of corruption". The Advocate. Retrieved 2017-11-01.
  15. ^ Woodward, Kevin Allman, Alex. "Ray Nagin sentenced to 10 years on federal corruption charges". Gambit. Retrieved 2017-11-01.

External linksEdit

Legal offices
Preceded by
Patrick Eugene Carr
Judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana
Succeeded by
Wendy Vitter
Preceded by
Edith Brown Clement
Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana
Succeeded by
Sarah Vance