Archive for March, 2013

Ruston City Council Monday

03/31/2013

Ruston’s Board of Aldermen will meet Monday, April 1, 5:30 PM, Ruston City Hall, 401 North Trenton, second floor.

Here is the agenda.

In Administration, one reappointment to the Airport Authority Board will be considered, and several reappointments to the Planning Commission are up.

Also, an ordinance will be introduced to provide for a land swap between the city and Thomas Jones to rectify an encroachment issue. The property is off of I-20 South Service Road West, adjacent to the city water tank.

See here the ordinance.

In Planning & Zoning, resolution will be considered concerning the north end of Belcara Drive.

See here the memo.

Also several substandard structures will be addressed.

See here the memo.

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Ouachita Parish Police Jury Monday

03/31/2013

The Ouachita Parish Police Jury (OPPJ) will meet Monday, April 1, 5:30 PM, Ouachita Parish Courthouse, second floor. The courthouse is on South Grand, three blocks south of DeSiard Street.

Here is the agenda.

Jonesboro Recusal Hearing Details

03/29/2013

Yesterday’s hearing on a motion by Jonesboro mayor Leslie Thompson’s defense attorney Louis Scott began with hearings on several other motions that had been filed in the interim.

First up, a defense motion for a continuance.

Scott said that he needed more time to gather evidence of Teat’s alleged animosity toward Thompson and also needed more time to review the discovery material turned over from the prosecutor.

Lea Hall, Special Assistant District Attorney for the Second Judicial District Attorney argued that whenever “serious allegations” are made in a motion, the mover should make sure of his facts with “reasonable specificity” prior to the filing, instead of trying to assemble evidence after making the charges.

Second Judicial (Bienville, Claiborne, Jackson Parishes) District Chief Judge Jenifer Clason noted that immediately after the recusal motion was filed, the two attorneys and she conferred via phone and that she took “a lot” of notes of that conversation.

Clason said the 3/28 hearing date was agreed to by all the parties, in view of everyone’s schedule for April and May. She also agreed with Hall’s argument that Scott should have assembled his facts prior to filing the recusal motion.

With that, Clason denied the motion for delay.

Next up, the issue of “judge shopping” by the DA was argued.

Scott called as a witness Jackson Parish Clerk of Court Deputy Dusty Hampton, and questioned him as to the procedure whereby judges were selected for trials.

Hampton said the procedure was contained in an established rule that periodically rotates the three judges among the three parishes in the 2nd JD. That way, no one judge heard cases that were exclusive to his/her parish. The month that the alleged crime took place determines what judge hears a particular case, Hampton said.

See here the procedure.

In his cross-examination, Hall asked Hampton if the procedure for selecting the judge for this case differed from any others, to which he replied “absolutely not.”

In ruling against Scott, Clason noted that the procedure by which judges in the 2nd JD are assigned is in full compliance with State v Simpson, the applicable case law for judge selection procedures.

Also denied by Clason were two subpoenas for testimony requested by Scott, one for Assistant District Attorney Douglas Stokes, and one for Division B Judge Jimmy Teat. Stokes also serves as the town’s legal adviser.

Hall had moved that both be quashed because the subpoenas did not state a purpose for the request, nor did they list required information with particularity.

After a short break around Noon, the actual recusal matter was argued.

Several large files were introduced into evidence, most of which concerned the two civil trials involving the town and mayor, Essmeier v Jonesboro and State v Jonesboro, both presided over by Teat.

The prosecution stipulated (agreed to) to the authenticity of the documents, but not any conclusions drawn from them.

Scott then called Town Clerk David Dill to the stand.

Scott questioned Dill extensively on office procedures and the history of the two civil cases. Scott spent a significant amount of time asking about the town’s former Fiscal Administrator Bill Ryder and his interaction with Judge Teat. He asked about any meetings between the two, and what reports Ryder submitted to Teat.

Also, Scott wanted to know what access Ryder had to the town’s records and computer files. The direction of the questioning seemed to indicate an effort to establish some type of nefarious conspiracy.

Hall had no cross-examination.

The only witness called by Hall was Jackson Parish Sheriff’s Office (JPSO) investigator Johnny Horton.

Horton testified to the evidence gathering procedures used during the investigation.

Notable during this part of the hearing was the interaction between Scott and Thompson. When the judge asked Scott if he had any more witnesses, he turned to Thompson as if to seek guidance. Thompson shook his head, and then Scott told the judge he had no more witnesses.

In denying the motion for recusal, Clason said that “no evidence was offered” that Teat held a personal animosity toward Thompson. As to the allegation that Teat’s involvement in the civil cases would prevent a fair trial, Clason cited several court cases where judges in civil cases also heard criminal cases involving the same parities.

Scott advised the court that he would be filing writs to the Court of Appeals, Second Circuit promptly in all of yesterday’s rulings.

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Higher Ed Roundup – 3/29/13

03/29/2013

Regents board members meet with Jindal

Teat to Remain as Trial Judge in Thompson Case, Clason Rules

03/28/2013

Second Judicial (Bienville, Claiborne, Jackson Parishes) District Division B Judge Jimmy Teat will remain as the trial judge in the malfeasance trial of controversial Town of Jonesboro mayor Leslie Thompson, Chief Judge Jenifer Clason ruled today in a Jackson Parish court.

Last week, Thompson attorney Louis Scott alleged in a motion that Teat exhibited “personal animosity” toward Thompson, and that since Teat presided over recent civil trials regarding Thompson’s mayoral conduct, he could not be a fair judge.

Clason said that the evidence presented today did not meet the “heavy burden” required to remove a presiding judge.

We will have a full report on the hearing tomorrow.

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Higher Ed Roundup – 3/28/13

03/28/2013

LSU approves Alexander as new president

LSU unanimously confirms F. King Alexander as its next president

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Higher Ed Roundup – 3/27/13

03/27/2013

Our Views: LSU probe is needed

Southern faculty threaten to sue; protest

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Thompson Defense Atty Files Amended Recusal Motion

03/26/2013

Louis Scott, defense attorney for Jonesboro mayor Leslie Thompson, this morning filed an amended motion to recuse, after Chief Judge of the Second Judicial (Bienville, Claiborne, Jackson Parishes) District Jenifer Clason ordered him to resubmit his request to remove Division B Judge Jimmy Teat from involvement in Thompson’s trial for malfeasance.

Scott’s original motion alleged that Teat harbored personal animosity toward Thompson and could not be an impartial judge.

In her order, Clason directed Scott to cite relevant laws and statutes, list the specific statements that Teat was alleged to have made, and provide names of witnesses who could attest to the alleged animosity.

Late last week, Lea Hall, Special Assistant District Attorney for the Second Judicial District Attorney filed an Objection and Response to the defense motion to recuse.

See here the document.

Hall said that Scott’s motion was “overly vague and conclusory,” and cited no genuine grounds for the request.

Scott’s amended motion states that “the defendant has heard allegations of personal animosity against the defendant by the judge,” but that “the time allotted did not give sufficient time to investigate the claims.”

Scott also cited Teat’s rulings in Essmeier v Jonesboro and State v Jonesboro as evidence of personal animosity.

Scott claims that since the judge gave relief beyond that which was requested by the plaintiffs, that was evidence of pursuit of a personal agenda.

See here the document.

The hearing on the motion is set for 11:00 AM, Thursday, 3/28, Jackson Parish Courthouse.

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Higher Ed Roundup – 3/26/13

03/26/2013

Legislators claim Jindal trying to oust higher education chief

Colleges seek to hike tuition for the most costly courses

May touts two-year degrees

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Lafayette DA Update – 3/26/13

03/26/2013

Suspect in bribery case released pending trial

LAFAYETTE — A key figure in the federal investigation of bribery in the local court system has been released pending trial with orders to have no contact with any witnesses in the case.

A federal grand jury in February indicted Robert Williamson, 64, of Lafayette, on counts of conspiracy, bribery and making a false statement to a federal agent.

He made an initial appearance on the charges Monday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Patrick Hanna, who allowed Williamson to remain free on a $50,000 unsecured bond, meaning Williamson would not be subject to paying the money unless he fails to make a court appearance.

Williamson, a private investigator, is accused of helping set up a four-year scheme to bribe District Attorney’s Office employees in return for favorable treatment of criminal defendants, mainly in DWI cases.

Williamson is set to be arraigned on the charges April 2.

Williamson arraignment set for April 2

Robert Williamson, the private investigator accused of masterminding a pay-for-plea bribery scheme involving the District Attorney’s Office, made his first court appearance today.

Williamson, 64, flanked by his attorney, Mike Small of Alexandria, appeared before federal Magistrate Judge Patrick Hanna in Lafayette.

Hanna read the multiple counts Williamson faces and the maximum penalty for each. He was released on an unsecured $50,000 appearance bond.

Williamson’s arraignment, where he will enter a plea, was continued until 9:30 a.m. April 2 at the request of Small.

Williamson, a Lafayette resident, is accused of a pay-for-plea bribery scheme to obtain favorable outcomes for his offender clients.

Five people, including an assistant district attorney and the district attorney’s secretary, entered deals, pleading guilty to either participating in the bribery conspiracy or not reporting it.

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