Archive for the ‘State Supreme Court’ Category

Drew Resignation Triggers Judge Election Next Spring

11/20/2017

The recent resignation of Judge Harmon Drew from the Court of Appeals, Second Circuit has precipitated a daisy chain of potential events regarding the judges of the Third Judicial (Lincon, Union Parishes) District.

Drew, whose term expires 12/31/18, instead chose to resign, thus opening up that seat for a spring, 2018 special election, according to a proclamation signed last week by Gov. John Edwards. Drew’s resignation was received by the Secretary of State last month, and was effective 11/3/17.

Drew’s slot (Division A, Second District) is listed on the court’s website as vacant.

The two election dates listed on the proclamation are Saturday, 3/24/18 for the primary, and Saturday, 4/28/18 for the general election. Qualifying dates are Wednesday, 1/3/18 to Friday, 1/5/18. The district is composed of nine parishes: Bienville, Bossier, Caldwell, Claiborne, Jackson, Lincoln, Union, Webster and Winn.

Running for the slot is sitting 3rd JD Judge Jay B. McCallum.

Should he win, that would open up his slot at the district court level.

With the recent retirement announcement of Judge Cynthia Woodard, that means that two of the three judge slots in the 3rd JD would be vacant.

Two local attorneys have told Lincoln Parish News Online (LPNO) that they are running, Bruce Hampton of Farmerville, and Jeffrey Robinson of Ruston. Both are assistant District Attorneys in the 3rd JD.

Others rumored to be interested are Louisiana State Representative Robert Shadoin, Ruston attorney Monique Clement, and Tyler Storms, also of Ruston. Storms was an unsuccessful candidate for judge in the 2014 election that saw Tommy Rogers win the seat.

No date has been set for any district judge election.

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Hearing Tomorrow on U. S. District Judge Nominee

10/31/2017

Media Advisory: Cassidy to Introduce Judicial Nominee During Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing

WASHINGTON—Tomorrow, US Senator Bill Cassidy, MD (R-LA) will introduce Judge Terry Doughty during the Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing regarding Doughty’s nomination to serve on the Western Louisiana District.

President Trump nominated Judge Terry Doughty for judgeship on the Western Louisiana District. Judge Doughty currently serves as a Division A Judge of the Fifth Judicial District in Louisiana. Judge Doughty attended Louisiana Tech University (B.S.) and Louisiana State University (J.D.).

WHO:
US Senator Bill Cassidy, MD (R-LA)
Judge Terry Doughty

WHAT:
Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing on Terry Doughty, Judicial Nominee for the Western Louisiana District

WHEN:
Tomorrow
Wednesday, November 1
10:00am ET/9:00am CT

Sumlin Attorney Donated to Lincoln/Union DA Belton

10/30/2017

Monroe attorney LaValle Salomon, who is the attorney of record for former state representative William Sumlin, has over the past three years contributed $3 thousand to Third Judicial (Lincoln, Union Parishes) District Attorney John Belton, campaign records show.

Sumlin, who two years ago was arrested and charged with indecent behavior with a juvenile, and has had his trial date rescheduled many times since his arrest.

Salomon donated $1000 to Belton’s campaign on 7/29/14, about three months prior to his election.

072914.

After Belton’s election, Salomon donated $1000 twice more, on 12/15/14, and on 7/23/15.

12/15/14
7/23/15

Sumlin Trial Date Vanishes?

10/30/2017

The glacial pace of justice in the case of former Louisiana State Representative William Sumlin just got slower.

According to records at the Lincoln Parish Clerk of Court, he is scheduled for trial today (Monday, 10/30) at 9:00 AM in Third Judicial (Lincoln, Union Parishes) District Court in Ruston.

However, during an October 17 hearing on a motion to suppress evidence, that hearing was rescheduled for Tuesday, January 16, at 1:30 PM. Apparently, the state and the defense neglected to set a new trial date.

We will be in court today for the Bonton/Daye/Demps matter, so we will try to find out what’s what with the Sumlin case.

Mays to Stand Trial for Hashway Murder in February

10/27/2017

The long-delayed trial of Cameron Mays for the murder of Cypress Springs resident Dr. Sue Hashway has been set for 9:00 AM, February 26, 2018, Lincoln Parish News Online has learned.

Mays was convicted in April, 2016 for a rape and kidnapping that took place several days before Hashway was found dead in her Paynter Drive home in June of 2012.

Prosecuting the case will be Assistant Attorney General Madeleine Slaughter-Young, a Monroe attorney who recently worked for the Fourth Judicial (Morehouse, Ouachita Parishes) District Attorney’s office. She has civil law experience, and was also a prosecutor for the Orleans Parish DA. In 2015, she was a candidate for Ouachita Parish Clerk of Court.

She is a veteran of the U. S. Army.

LPNO readers will remember that formerly, Assistant AG Mike Ruddick handled the prosecution of Mays for the prior trial. He recently retired.

In this morning’s proceedings at Third Judicial (Lincoln, Union Parishes) District Court in Ruston, the three alleged accomplices of Mays were not in court, but were reset to appear Monday at 9:00 AM. Their trials will be rescheduled to coincide with the February 26 Mays trial, courtroom sources said.

Mays has two hearings prior to trial, a 9:00 AM 11/21/17 status conference, and a 9:00 AM 2/23/18 pretrial conference.

Now it’s DeSoto Parish

10/26/2017

Former Desoto Parish District Attorney’s Office employee indicted for stealing fees

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, October 26, 2017

SHREVEPORT, La. – Acting U.S. Attorney Alexander C. Van Hook announced that a federal grand jury indicted a Converse woman for seven counts of mail fraud.

Melanie Barber, 35, of Converse, La., was employed by the Desoto Parish District Attorney’s office from April 2002 until February 2014. From at least 2004 to 2014, she negotiated money orders made payable to and intended for the Desoto Parish District Attorney’s Office. The money orders were collected by worthless checks and diversion fees but negotiated by Barber at several local banks and retailers for her personal use.

Barber faces up to 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine per count. She also faces forfeiture.

The FBI and the Mansfield Police Department conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Mike O’Mara is prosecuting the case.

An indictment is merely an accusation and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Cameron Mays’ Alleged Accomplices to be in Court Friday

10/26/2017

Several alleged accomplices of convicted rapist Cameron Mays are scheduled for pre-trial hearings tomorrow (Friday, 10/27) morning in Third Judicial (Lincoln, Union Parishes) District Court at 9:00 AM in Ruston.

Brandon Bonton, Robert Demps, and Markeva Daye were charged in connection with Mays’ alleged June, 2012 crime spree that resulted in the murder of retired Grambling State University Professor Dr. Sue Hashway, and the aggravated rape and kidnapping of a Louisiana Tech University co-ed.

Mays was convicted of the rape and kidnapping by a Lincoln Parish jury in April, 2016.

Among Bonton’s charges are theft, accessory to burglary, accessory to murder 2nd and drug possession.

Day and Demps are both charged with accessory to murder 2nd, accessory to burglary, drug possession, and possession of stolen things.

See here the court docket.

Still unclear is the status of erstwhile key witness Kevin Owen, who was also an alleged accomplice of Mays.

Assistant Attorney General Mike Ruddick, who prosecuted Mays on the rape and kidnapping charges, originally intended to call Owen as a witness for the prosecution’s case. However, in February, 2016, Owens “disappeared from the face of the earth” just prior to trial.

During the trial, Mays claimed that Owens was with him during the burglary and that Owen committed the rape.

He never been charged, nor has an arrest warrant been issued for him. We’ve not been able to get a clear answer from the Third Judicial District Attorney’s office, the Attorney General’s Office, or the Ruston Police Department on why this is so.

Meanwhile, in St Tammany & Washington Parishes

10/24/2017

Former 22nd JDC District Attorney’s Office Investigator Charged with Solicitation and Receipt of Bribes

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – Monday, October 23, 2017

Acting United States Attorney Duane A. Evans announced that MICHAEL J. COTTON, age 68, of Bogalusa, was charged today in a one-count Bill of Information with soliciting sexual favors from a woman in exchange for obtaining a bond reduction for her boyfriend.

According to the Bill of Information, COTTON worked as an Investigator with the Office of the District Attorney for the 22nd Judicial District, which included St. Tammany and Washington Parishes. COTTON was responsible for investigating matters involving the issuance of bad checks, including initiating cases, reviewing records, interacting with victims, collecting fees and restitution from offenders, and obtaining warrants from municipal judges. COTTON also possessed and displayed a law enforcement badge and credentials, represented the DA’s Office in interactions with criminal defendants and witnesses in ongoing law enforcement investigations, and had access to sensitive case-related information. Furthermore, COTTON regularly corresponded with, had access to, and provided case-related recommendations to Assistant District Attorneys. On July 10, 2015, COTTON is alleged to have demanded sexual favors from a female identified as “Victim 1” in exchange for seeking a bond reduction for her boyfriend from $25,000 to a $30 signature bond.

“We are grateful for the joint efforts between our office and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Louisiana’s Eastern District. Those efforts resulted in today’s filing of a bill of information against Mr. Cotton,” said Louisiana State Attorney General Jeff Landry. “I am committed to ensuring the strong ongoing partnership between law enforcement partners on every level to investigate, arrest, and prosecute criminals.”

If convicted, COTTON faces a maximum term of imprisonment of ten years, followed by up to a lifetime of supervised release, and a $250,000 fine.

Acting United States Attorney Evans reiterated that the Bill of Information is merely a charge and that the guilt of the defendant must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

Acting U.S. Attorney Evans praised the work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in investigating this matter. Special thanks for the assistance provided by the Louisiana State Attorney General’s Office. Assistant United States Attorney Jordan Ginsberg is in charge of the prosecution.

3rd JD Judge Cynthia Woodard Announces Retirement

09/12/2017

Cynthia “Cindy” Woodard, Third Judicial District (Lincoln, Union Parishes) Division A Judge is retiring early next year, she announced yesterday in an email to her colleagues of the Lincoln Parish Bar.

Members of the Bar,

I feel privileged and honored to have had the opportunity of being one of your district court judges. Aside from my role as a wife and mother, it has truly been the most rewarding and fulfilling undertaking in my life. While at times it has been challenging and in certain instances even troubling and disconcerting, I am very appreciative that the people of Union and Lincoln Parish allowed me to hold this position for 21 years.

I also appreciate the many courtesies virtually all of you have extended to me over these years. There is no doubt that I have been fortunate to have worked with such conscientious members of the bar in Union and Lincoln Parish. You have represented your clients in an exemplary manner, and have been a credit to our community and the legal profession.

I am also fortunate to have worked with such quality colleagues – Judge Smith, Judge McCallum, Judge Rogers and Judge Boddie. Their sense of duty and consistent desire to serve has made me proud to be a member of the bench of the Third Judicial District Court. I am especially proud that we have worked together harmoniously as your judges in an effort to better serve the legal profession and the members of the public.

I have decided to formally retire early in 2018. When that time comes, I will miss working with all of you, but I have every confidence that the Judicial District will continue to prosper.

From the bottom of my heart, I thank you, my colleagues, and all of those with whom I have worked on a daily basis. In speaking of my heart, I hope that upon my retirement, you would feel that any mistakes that I have made along the way have been of the head and not of the heart, as my sincere wish has always been to perform my duties in a manner that promoted justice and fairness. I especially want to thank my husband and children for their support and encouragement. To the extent that I have had any success in this position and in life, I owe it to them.

Fondly,
Cindy Woodard

Woodard, first elected in 1996, was in 2014 elected unopposed for a six year term. As the term runs until 2020, a special election must be held to fill the remainder.

Woodard’s action comes on the heels of other rumored changes in the district.

With the impending retirement next year of 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Harmon Drew, court house rumors have 3rd JD’s Chief Judge Jay McCallum vying for that spot.

Drew reached the mandatory retirement age of 70 last year, but is allowed to finish his term which expires 12/31/18.

Should McCallum win that slot, his position at the district level will become vacant. Third JD Assistant District Attorney Bruce Hampton is rumored to be eyeing that position.

Lolley “Retires” From LA 2nd Circuit

05/03/2017

Judge Lolley to retire from Second Circuit
Three area judges, including Ellender, Marchman, planning campaigns for the appeal court

By Zach Parker zach@ouachitacitizen.com May 2, 2017

Second Circuit Court of Appeal Judge Larry Lolley, who drew scrutiny last fall for ex-parte communications with a Monroe attorney, is expected to take early retirement from the court, according to the appeal court’s chief judge.

Second Circuit Chief Judge Henry Brown Jr. said Lolley would retire on Wednesday. “He is retiring, effective May 3,” Brown said.

Lolley drew controversial attention last fall when copies of Oct. 27, 2016 text messages between he and Monroe attorney Mark Neal surfaced. The text messages constituted an ex-parte communication – which Lolley initiated – about one of Neal’s cases before the appeal court, as first reported by The Ouachita Citizen in November 2016.

The state Supreme Court’s Code of Judicial Conduct forbids any ex-parte communications concerning substantive matters or the merits of a case.

See here the complete article (subscription required).