Archive for the ‘City of Monroe’ Category

Investigation Demanded Into Plea Deal Overseen by Ouachita Citizen Case Judge

05/21/2015

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.

See here District Attorney Joel Chaisson’s subsequent press release.

From The (New Orleans) Advocate – 5/21/15

Destrehan teacher sex plea deal at center of Crime Commission’s request to probe St. Charles district attorney

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.

Teacher/Student Sex Judge Now Overseeing Ouachita Newspaper Lawsuit

05/20/2015

null

Anne Simon, a retired New Iberia Judge that is now presiding over a lawsuit filed against the Ouchita Citizen by the judges of the Fourth Judical (Ouachita, Morehouse Parishes) District, earlier this year handled a high-profile case in St. Charles Parish, where two female Destrehan High School teachers allegedly engaged in group sex with a 16 year old male student.

One of the two, Shelly Dufresne, admitted guilt and received a plea deal which was vociferously criticized.

Dufresne is the daughter of a St. Charles Parish Judge, Emile St. Pierre.

From The (New Orleans) Times Picayune – 10/9/2014


Destrehan teacher Shelley Dufresne, accused of having sex with student, gets new trial judge

The state Supreme Court has appointed a retired judge from New Iberia to the case of Shelley Dufresne, a Destrehan High School teacher accused of having sex with a 16-year-old student. All three judges in St. Charles Parish had recused themselves.

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court tapped Anne Lennan Simon of the 16th Judicial District Court for Iberia, St. Mary and St. Martin parishes.

From The (New Orleans) Times Picayune – 4/9/2015

Destrehan High teacher Shelley Dufresne admits sex with student

Former Destrehan High School teacher Shelley Dufresne pleaded guilty to obscenity Thursday, April 9, admitting in court that she had sex with a 16-year-old student. The plea lets her and the student avoid a public trial, and allows her to bypass registering as a sex offender and serving three years in prison.

The 4 special probation rules facing ex-teacher Shelley Dufresne

No contact “whatsoever” with the victim or his family — The student, now 17, is identified in court records by the initials C.P. “Defendant will not utilize any form of social media to contact or comment on the victim or his family,” Simon said.
Forfeit teaching certificate — Dufresne taught English at Destrehan High for about a decade. She resigned Sept. 30, a school system spokeswoman said. That is the day that St. Charles Parish sheriff’s deputies booked her with carnal knowledge of a juvenile. Simon said she must “immediately forfeit” her license to teach.
Employment restrictions — Simon told Dufresne she may not take any job in which she “would hold a position of authority over any person under the age of 18.”
Mandatory mental health treatment — Dufresne was ordered to a 90-day stay in a court-approved, in-patient mental health treatment program, in lieu of jail. She must complete the program by Aug. 31, or on Sept. 1 she will be sent to the parish jail, Simon said. Dufresne will not be allowed to leave the mental health facility without written approval of the court, Simon said.

Among the criticism of the deal was this editorial in The (New Orleans) Times Picayune, 4/13/15:

Smiling former Destrehan teacher ought to be on state’s sex-offender list: Jarvis DeBerry

You probably thought Shelley Dufresne, a former teacher at Destrehan High, got off easy when a judge gave her probation for having sex with one of her students. Apparently, Dufresne thinks the same. Hours after the 32-year-old mother of three pleaded guilty Thursday to sex with the 16-year-old she posted a smiling selfie of herself on Instagram.

Her caption: “My mood today.”

People who were already dyspeptic over Dufresne’s light sentence must have been sickened even more by her revelation of her mood. Dufresne just couldn’t be satisfied with mercy. She had to flaunt the fact that she won’t be going to prison and provoke those who believe that’s where she ought to be.

See here the complete Times Picayune archive on the case.

And now this same judge is adjudicating a case where judges in Ouachita Parish have sued the Ouachita Citizen newspaper, owned by Sammy Hannah, Jr. The Citizen had filed public records requests with the court, and the judges disputed the requests, claiming they involved “personnel matters.”

Good luck on getting a fair shake, Sammy. You’ll need it.

Judges Admit Dox are Public Records in Suit Against Newspaper

05/19/2015

Attorneys representing the judges of the Fourth Judicial (Morehouse, Ouachita Parishes) District Court stipulated in court this morning that documents in possession of the court are indeed public records, as defined by Louisiana’s Public Records law, LA RS 44. However, Monroe Attorney Jon Guice, said that as the documents in question may involve sensitive personnel issues, they are not subject to disclosure.

At issue is whether 4th JD Court Clerk Allyson Campbell destroyed or otherwise mishandled public records, and whether there was a coverup to conceal the facts. When Ouachita Citizen Reporter Johnny Gunter filed a public records request for documents that might shed light on Campbell’s involvement , he was rebuffed.

One of Gunter’s specific requests was for:

Any sworn/notarized or unsworn document filed by Monroe attorney Cody Rials at the request of Fourth Judicial District Court Judge Wendell Manning concerning missing files or the destruction of court records by Ms. Campbell.

In March, Citizen Publisher Sam Hannah, Jr. filed a criminal complaint with 4th JD District Attorney Jerry Jones.

The court retaliated against Hannah by suing the newspaper, claiming a privacy exception.

See here the documents.

This morning’s arguments centered on whether Campbell is a public figure as defined by law, and to how much privacy she was entitled.

In fact, Campbell is a contributor to The (Monroe, LA) News Star, and writes a weekly gossip column for that newspaper.

The Citizen’s New Orleans Attorney, Scott Sternberg, argued that in cases of possible public malfeasance, privacy expectations of an employee should be subordinate to the public’s right to know how its government operates.

Presiding at the hearing was Retired New Iberia Judge Anne Simon.

4th JD Chief Judge Stephen Winters was in the courtroom, as the plaintiff of record against the Citizen.

Simon said she would rule shortly in the case.

At The Ouachita Parish Courthouse Tomorrow

05/18/2015

Courtroom 7
Tuesday, May 19, 9:30 am

Judge H. Stephens Winters, in His Capacity as Chief Judge of the Fourth Judicial District Court vs. Hanna Media, Inc. d/b/a The Ouachita Citizen – Rule:DECLARATORY JUDGMENT

We will cover the hearing.

Monroe City Council Tuesday

05/11/2015

The Monroe City Council will meet Tuesday, May 12, 6:00 PM, Monroe City Hall, 400 Lea Joyner Expressway.

Here is the agenda.

Monroe City Council Tuesday

04/27/2015

The Monroe City Council will meet Tuesday, April 28, 6:00 PM, Monroe City Hall, 400 Lea Joyner Expressway.

Here is the agenda.

Richwood Finances “Un-Auditable”

04/21/2015

In a just-released financial report on the Town of Richwood, Baton Rouge CPA Melvin Davis revealed numerous findings and problems for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2013, and “disclaimed” an opinion on the town’s finances.

Wrote Davis:

The Town could not provide sufficient competent evidence to determine the accuracy and completeness of the Town’s financial statements for the year ended June 30, 2013.

and,

The Town’s ongoing revenue shortfalls and inability to meet its financial obligations raise substantial doubt about the Town’s ability to continue as a going concern.

See here the complete report.

Among the findings:

Overall lack of financial management
Failure to record transactions
No financial statements
Lack of payroll administration
Potential ethics violations

Richwood has been under the direction of a Fiscal Administrator, Lafayette CPA Jonald Walker, who took over AFTER the period covered in the report.

Reportedly, Walker is making progress with the town’s finances.

I-20 Board Meeting This Afternoon

04/21/2015

The Interstate 20 Economic Development District Board of Directors will meet today, (Tuesday, April 21) 4:00 PM, Monroe City Hall, 400 Lea Joyner Expressway.

Here is the agenda.

Monroe Mayor Mayo Agrees – In Writing – To Council Budget Requests

04/20/2015

Last week’s meeting of the Monroe City Council saw an “agreement” – in writing – between the council and Mayor Jamie Mayo on budget matters.

Recall that after the council introduced its own budget at the March 24 meeting, Mayo went on a public relations push, and said the council’s budget would be “catastrophic” to city’s finances.

Mayo held town meetings with his factotums from city hall in tow. Dutifully carrying water for Mayo was The (Monroe, LA) News Star, aka The Mayo Mouthpiece.

City Hall watchers anticipated a lively 4/14 meeting over who would vote how, if Mayo would veto, and if his veto would be upheld or overruled. Then, as the 4/14 meeting got underway, it was announced that the mayor and council had settled their differences.

However, not until Roosevelt Wright’s column in the 4/18 edition of the Monroe Free Press did we know that Mayo put his promises in writing.

Among the document’s points:

Understanding of the Parties – The parties agree and understand that the effectiveness of the Mayor’s Original Proposed Budget is predicated upon the following commitments by James E. Mayo, Mayor:

1. Additional funding for increased safety and protection to police department;
2. Additional funding for ditching, flooding and culverts;
3. Additional funding for wage increases up to a standard minimum wage rate of $10.00 per hour pursuant to the collective bargaining agreement;
4. Funding for “at risk” youth including the Special Skills Program in association with the Home Builders Association;
5. Funding for the Granny Goins Kitchen,O.K. Program and Council of Aging;
6. Funding for programs to beautify and make the City “litter free”;and
7. Overlay of Jackson Street.

It is further understood by the parties that quarterly budget amendments will be presented to the Monroe City Council prior to such budget amendment appearing on the Monroe City Council Agenda and further that a quarterly report on the above stated six(6) commitments be prepared and submitted to the council.

See here the signed document.

Fourth District (Ouachita) Court Coverup Update

04/16/2015

A 9:30 AM, May 19th court date has been set for a hearing in the public records dispute between The Ouachita Citizen and the Fourth Judicial (Morehouse, Ouachita Parishes) District Court. The hearing will be at the Ouachita Parish Court House on South Grand Street.

At issue are documents that would shed light on allegations that court clerk Allyson Campbell destroyed court documents. Also, the documents could shed light on assertions by the Louisiana Legislative Auditor of payroll discrepancies in the court.

From the audit:

Our audit procedures disclosed that some employees may have received compensation when they were not working. It appears that hours reported to payroll on time sheets might have been misclassified as time worked instead of leave time used.

See here the complete audit.

Campbell is a columnist for The (Monroe, LA) New Star.

See here the complete Johnny Gunter news story in this week’s Citizen (subscription required).


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 383 other followers