The Greater New Orleans area Metropolitan Crime Commission is requesting Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell investigate a plea deal in a case that was heard by the same Judge who is now presiding over a lawsuit by judges of the Fourth Judicial (Ouachita, Morehouse Parishes) against The Ouachita Citizen newspaper.
From The (New Orleans) Times Picayune – 5/21/15
Did Shelley Dufresne get special treatment? Crime commission thinks so
A watchdog group is asking for a probe on whether former Destrehan High School teacher Shelley Dufresne, who admitted to having sex with a 16-year-old student, received preferential treatment that led to a lighter sentence because her father is a sitting district judge.
Crime Commission president Rafael Goyeneche III wrote that it appears Dufresne was given preferential treatment because the day after she publicly pleaded guilty to a felony charge of obscenity in open court, she was allowed to privately plead guilty to a misdemeanor during a hearing held in ad hoc Judge Anne Simon’s chamber at the Hahnville courthouse.
“The actions and omissions of D.A. Joel Chaisson, who was present during both guilty pleas, creates the appearance that preferential treatment and political considerations took precedence over the law,” the Commission’s letter states.
“Ms. Dufresne’s April 10th misdemeanor guilty plea occurred during a court session that was shrouded from the public in judicial chambers which infers an intent by D.A. Chaisson to conceal these proceedings from the public.”
See here the Commission’s letter to AG Caldwell.
From The (New Orleans) Advocate – 5/21/15
The Metropolitan Crime Commission is asking the state Attorney General’s Office to investigate whether St. Charles Parish District Attorney Joel Chaisson II gave preferential treatment to a former Destrehan High School teacher who accepted a plea deal that allowed her to avoid prison or registering as a sex offender, despite admitting that she had sex with a 16-year-old student.
MCC President Rafael Goyeneche said Chaisson improperly changed the terms of the deal after the fact to defendant Shelley Dufresne’s benefit. Goyeneche also said Chaisson should have recused his office, as all three of the judges on the St. Charles Parish bench — including Dufresne’s father, Emile St. Pierre — did.
In a letter sent Wednesday to Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell, Goyeneche said Chaisson “mishandled” the case, and he called for “an investigation by an impartial, external agency to ascertain if any criminal violations have been committed.”
It is notable that prior to the Tuesday morning hearing in the case 4th JD Judges v The Ouachita Citizen, Simon summoned all the attorneys of the case into a ten minute closed-door “meeting” out of the public view and hearing.