There’s a question over what impact alleged work-related criminal conduct by a government employee could have over the appointment of a taxpayer-funded attorney for the employee’s defense in a related civil suit.
Earlier this month, Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell appointed Lawrence W. Pettiette, Jr to help defend Fourth Judicial (Morehouse, Ouachita Parishes) District Court Clerk Allyson Campbell in the civil suit Palowski v Campbell, et al. Campbell is a “covered employee” that is entitled to a taxpayer funded attorney, Caldwell maintains.
See here the Ouachita Citizen’s Johnny Gunter story detailing that action.
See here the motion to enroll Pettitte as additional counsel.
Palowski alleges in his suit that Campbell destroyed court documents in another civil case (Palowski v Cork), and that several district judges covered up her wrongdoing.
Here’s the law:
LA RS 13:1508.1(3) If the attorney general concludes that the covered individual was engaged in the performance of the duties of his office or employment with the state at the time the events that form the basis of the cause of action happened and that the covered individual was free of criminal conduct, then the attorney general shall provide a defense to the covered individual. If the attorney general concludes that the covered individual was not engaged in the performance of the duties of his office or employment with the state at the time the events that form the basis of the cause of action happened or that the employee was engaged in criminal conduct, then the attorney general shall not provide a defense to the covered individual. Such a decision shall be communicated in writing to the covered individual and the head of the department of the state in which the individual is employed within ten working days of delivery of the petition to the attorney general. It is sufficient notice if the communication is sent properly addressed to the covered individual either at his place of work, his home, or any other place where he may be found by United States Postal Service, third party commercial carrier for no more than three day delivery, facsimile, or electronic mail and to his departmental employer.
The key phrases are these:
If the attorney general concludes… that the covered individual was free of criminal conduct, then the attorney general shall provide a defense to the covered individual.
If the attorney general concludes…that the employee was engaged in criminal conduct, then the attorney general shall not provide a defense to the covered individual.
There is, or at least was, a criminal investigation into the matter.
Fourth JD District Attorney Jerry Jones recused his office from any investigation late last year, and referred the case to the Attorney General.
See here the documents:
We sent an inquiry to the AG with the following questions, along with a public records request:
Is your office now conducting such an investigation into Campbell to determine if she is eligible for a defense?
Has it been completed, or is it ongoing?
What was the outcome, if completed?
The records request is for any records regarding the outcome of any investigation into alleged criminal activity by Allyson Campbell, and who made the investigation request.
Here’s the response from spokesman Aaron Sadler:
Whether someone is being investigated for criminal conduct does not relieve the Office of the Attorney General’s and the Office of Risk Management’s obligation to provide a civil tort defense to covered individuals under R.S. 13:5108.1. Criminal investigations are confidential and, in most cases, the results of such investigation are not available during the period of time that coverage determinations are being made. Ultimately, if criminal conduct is sufficiently verified, the state can revisit the coverage determination under R.S. 13:5108.1.
The AG also sent a letter in response to the public records request that said “our office is in the process of determining what, if any, records are subject to this request.”
Our question is how can the AG provide a taxpayer-funded attorney to defend a government employee unless and until it is determined if the individual committed a crime related to the civil case?
We published our questions, the current law, and the AG response.
This case has been but one coverup after another.
First the district judges sued The Ouachita Citizen after it requested public documents. Then another judge blocked any public testimony from witnesses who could shed light on what are the facts.
Now, it appears, the Attorney General is spending taxpayer money to defend a government employee who may have destroyed public documents.
It’s time to end the coverup. The citizens of Louisiana are entitled to a court system that is open and above board, and a legal system that applies equally to all.