Archive for the ‘State Supreme Court’ Category

Ouachita Parish Court Coverup Update

03/01/2017

Appeal court doubts law clerk’s immunity

By Zach Parker zach@ouachitacitizen.com

BATON ROUGE — Whether a “non-lawyer law clerk” at Fourth Judicial District Court in Monroe can be sued for destroying court documents was at the heart of questions discussed by a panel of judges at the First Circuit Court of Appeal in Baton Rouge last week.

The three-judge panel, including Chief Judge Vanessa Whipple as well as judges John Michael Guidry and Page McClendon, was assigned to preside over last week’s hearing in Monroe businessman Stanley Palowsky III’s lawsuit against Fourth Judicial District Court officials.

Palowsky’s July 2015 lawsuit accused law clerk Allyson Campbell of concealing or destroying court documents he filed with the court in a separate lawsuit against his former business partner, Brandon Cork. Palowsky sued Fourth Judicial District Court judges Fred Amman, Wilson Rambo, Carl Sharp, Stephens Winters and retired Judge Ben Jones, who now serves as the court’s administrator. According to Palowsky’s lawsuit, the five judges conspired to cover up Campbell’s activities.

“Is it a function of a law clerk to destroy pleadings?” said Guidry, of the First Circuit, while discussing the propriety of a “non-lawyer law clerk” enjoying the same judicial immunity as a judge. “Is that a function of judges to destroy public records?”

During last week’s hearing, the judges asked for parties to distinguish or whether a law clerk should enjoy the same protection from lawsuits as judges under the standard of judicial immunity.

Second Circuit Court Issues Surface

11/23/2016

Attorney blows whistle on Second Circuit Judge Larry Lolley for ex-parte messages in Sixth St. bar case

By Zach Parker zach@ouachitacitizen.com 2 hrs ago 0

Second Circuit Court of Appeal Judge Larry Lolley initiated an ex-parte communication with Monroe attorney Mark Neal last month, warning the attorney the appellate court would likely rule against his client, the Sixth Street Saloon in Monroe, prior to a hearing on the bar’s appeal.

The ex-parte communication was conveyed in text messages from Lolley to Neal on Oct. 27. Ex-parte communications concerning substantive matters or the merits of a case are forbidden, according to the state Supreme Court’s Code of Judicial Conduct.

Lolley, of Monroe, said Neal was wasting time pursuing his client’s lawsuit and should take his career into consideration before taking such cases. Lolley also indicated the Second Circuit’s three-judge panel – including himself – would likely favor the defendant, not Neal’s client.

Neal reported the incident to the Second Circuit in an Oct. 31 letter that included screenshots of the text message exchange with Lolley. The Ouachita Citizen obtained the documents through a public records request to the court.

“This exchange clearly and unfortunately demonstrates unsolicited, ex-parte communication from Judge Lolley to me regarding a case pending before this court and to which the three presiding judges are referenced by name,” stated Neal’s letter to the court.

Cox Wins 2nd Circuit Judgeship

11/08/2016

Cox defeats incumbent for seat on appeals court

By Gary Hines – KTBS-TV3

In a rare challenge of a sitting judge, Bossier-Webster District Judge Jeff Cox defeated incumbent Jay Caraway on Tuesday for a seat on the state appeals court representing much of north Louisiana.

Cox had 57 percent of the vote to 43 percent for Caraway, with 98 percent of precincts reporting.

Cox heavily outspent Caraway in the race, which also had its share of acrimony. A Caraway campaign ad pointed to the number of times Cox’s rulings in civil cases have been overturned on appeal. The Cox campaign criticized Caraway for reducing the bond that had been set for a man accused of rape. A judicial campaign oversight committee said both candidates misrepresented some of the facts.

The judgeship is on the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeal. Voters in parishes from Bossier to Lincoln voted in the election.

Courthouse Gossip: Woodard May Run for Circuit Judgeship

09/27/2016

Courtrooms, besides a place where crimes are tried and civil cases adjudicated, are a great source for political gossip.

One item we picked up last week is that Third Judicial (Lincoln, Union Parishes) Division A Judge Cynthia Woodard is contemplating a run for a seat on the Louisiana Court of Appeals, Second Circuit.

Harmon Drew, on the 2nd Circuit since 1998, may retire at the end of his current term in 2018, courthouse sources said. He will be 72 at the end of the term.

If Drew retires, and Woodard gets elected to the circuit seat, that will leave a vacancy on the local court. She was re-elected there without opposition in 2014 to a six-year term. A special election will have to be held to fill out the remaining two years. Woodard has been in the district court seat since 1996.

Local Ruston coffee shop patrons have noted in recent weeks the high visibility of at least one former judge, who is making the rounds and buying donuts for the coffee drinkers.

Former DA to Visit Greybar Hotel

08/19/2016

Former St. Charles District Attorney Harry Morel Sentenced to 3 Years Imprisonment for Obstruction of Justice

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

U.S. Attorney Kenneth A. Polite announced today HARRY J. MOREL, JR., age 73, was sentenced today after previously pleading guilty to obstruction of justice in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1512(d)(1).

U.S. District Judge Kurt D. Engelhardt sentenced MOREL to 3 years imprisonment, a $20,000 fine, 1 year of supervised release and a $100 special assessment.

According to court records, MOREL served as the elected prosecutor of St. Charles Parish, Louisiana from on or about January 1, 1979 until May 31, 2012. Thereafter, he became an Assistant District Attorney in the Office of the District Attorney for St. Charles Parish and remained in that position until January 11, 2013. MOREL resided in, and his office was located in, St. Charles Parish, Louisiana, in the Eastern District of Louisiana.

As District Attorney and as an Assistant District Attorney for St. Charles Parish, MOREL was responsible for prosecuting individuals charged with criminal and traffic offenses against the State of Louisiana. As the District Attorney, MOREL had the authority and discretion to, among other things, make bail recommendations, make sentence recommendations and bring dismiss, forego or reduce charges.

MOREL freely admitted that he is guilty of Obstruction of Justice in that he harassed Individual “A” and attempted to prevent and dissuade Individual “A” from attending or testifying in an official proceeding, i.e., the federal grand jury, by telling Individual “A” to “get rid of” and to “destroy” the evidence of a meeting they had and to deny the inappropriate nature of the meeting to law enforcement officials. Furthermore, based on Individual “A”‘s representations, MOREL believed there would be a federal Grand Jury investigation, and as a result asked her to conceal information that would have likely led to her being a witness before that body.

MOREL also admitted that on other occasions, between 2007 and 2009, he solicited sex from other individuals who were defendants or who had family members who were defendants in the St. Charles Parish criminal justice system. While soliciting sex from these individuals, MOREL likewise used the office of the District Attorney to provide benefits to these other individuals, including falsifying community service reports.

U.S. Attorney Polite praised the work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s Office in investigating this matter. Assistant U.S. Attorneys James Baehr and Mark Miller were in charge of the prosecution.

2nd Circuit Campaign Finance Reports

07/25/2016

Normally, races for judges are relatively low-key elections, with not too much spending. Not so the race for the Louisiana Court of Appeals, Second Circuit, Division C, Second District. The Second District includes Bossier, Webster, Claiborne, Union, Bienville, Lincoln, Jackson, Caldwell, and Winn Parishes.

Incumbent Jay Caraway is being challenged by Jeff Cox, a judge in the 26th Judicial (Bossier, Webster Parishes) District Court.

As of May 2, Caraway reports $29 thousand in contributions, $100 thousand in loans, and $22 thousand in expenditures:

See here the complete report.

Notable contributions:

Bossier Eye Institute – $1,000
Central Management Co., Winnfield – $1,000
Dr. Allen Cox, Bossier City – $1,000
Randy Denmon, Monroe – $1,000
Hanna Manufacturing, Winnfield – $2,500
William Jones, Ruston – $1,000
Dr. David Kirby, Hosston – $1,500
James Leslie, Bossier City $2,500
P. K. Smith Motors, Winnfield – $2,000
Price, Beville, Smith – Winnfield – $1,500
S. L. Smith, Dodson – $1,000
Wilkinson, Carmody & Gilliam, Shreveport – $1,000

Cox’s May 2 report shows $116,000 in contributions, $98 thousand in loans, and $81.5 thousand in expenditures.

See here the complete report.

Notable contributions:

Trey Beene, Bossier City – $1,500
Henry Cantrell, Benton – $1,000
Mrs. Orville Cox, Minden – $5,000
Phillip Cox, Benton – $3,000
Danny Lawler Enterprises, Shreveport – $1,250
John Evans, Bossier City – $1,250
M. F. Graham, Shreveport – $1,000
James Hall, Bossier City – $1,000
Hoffman Interest, Shreveport – $1,000
J & R Juneau, Bossier City – $2,500
J. Marshall Jones, Shreveport – $2,500
John & Eric Johnson, Minden – $3,500
Mark Lowe, Shreveport – $2,500
W. A. Lucky, III, Shreveport – $2,500
William Lucky, IV, Shreveport – $1,000
James Madden, Minden – $2,500
Mark Miciotto, Shreveport – $1,100
Ronald Miciotto, Shreveport – $2,500
Travis Miller, Shreveport – $1,000
George Mills, Jr, Shreveport – $1,250
Morris Guin, Minden – $1,000
Matthew Mosura, Haughton – $1,000
North Bossier Development, Bossier City – $2,500
Patrick Jackson, Bossier City – $1,500
Richard Pierce, Shreveport – $1,000
Walter Pipes, Shreveport – $1,000
Paul Pons, Bossier City – $1,000
Robinson & Williams, Bossier City – $2,500
James Rogers, Bossier City – $1,500
Simmons, Morris & Carroll, Shreveport – $5,000
Kenneth Smith, Shreveport – $2,500
Steven Carby, Shreveport – $1,000
Cook Law Firm, Haughton – $1,500
Twin City Exterminating, Bossier City – $2,500
Wilson Starter, Generator & Alternator, Minden – $1,000
Collier Investments, Benton – $1,250

The next reporting date is August 10, which will cover contributions and expenditures through 7/31/16.

Ouachita Parish Court Coverup Update

05/04/2016

Law clerk, Crawford stall for time in Marchman lawsuit

By Zach Parker zach@ouachitacitizen.com

Law clerk Allyson Campbell and Monroe attorney Brian Crawford both asked the U.S. District Court on Tuesday for more time to respond to Fourth Judicial District Court Judge Sharon Marchman’s lawsuit against them and other court officials.

Campbell and Crawford are two of several defendants in Marchman’s lawsuit, which claims some Fourth Judicial District Court officials and their attorneys threatened, harassed, ridiculed and alienated her when she tried to uncover their alleged efforts to cover up wrongdoing at the court. Campbell is accused — in Marchman’s lawsuit, as well as in a Fourth Judicial District Court lawsuit pursued by Monroe businessman Stanley R. Palowsky III — of committing payroll fraud and destroying or concealing documents filed with the court.

The other judges that Marchman claimed mistreated her are Carl Sharp, Fred Amman, Wilson Rambo and former Judge Ben Jones, who now serves as the court’s administrator. Those four judges also tried to cover up Campbell’s activities, Marchman said.

Alleged Rape Victim, Roommate Testify in Mays Trial

04/26/2016

The alleged victim of Cameron Mays, along with her roommate, took the stand this afternoon, and testified to the events of early Monday, 6/4/2012, the date Mays is accused of sexually assaulting the then Louisiana Tech student. The testimony took place in Third Judicial (Lincoln, Union Parishes) District Court in Ruston.

Both testified that they had traveled to Bastrop on Sunday afternoon, and returned to their house located west of the Tech campus around 6 PM. The roommate said she left about 10 PM to spend the night with her sister, leaving the victim asleep on the sofa.

Around 3 or 4 AM, the victim said she awoke to voices in the house. Thinking it was her returning roommate, she got up and went into the kitchen, whereupon she was attacked, tied up, and placed on the sofa where she was assaulted.

Her attacker was armed, she said. She never got a good look at his face because it was covered.

Asked if she tried to fight the assault, she said she didn’t because, “I was afraid he would kill me.”

The attacker then rummaged through her purse and found an ATM card, she testified. She was then abducted and forced to drive to an ATM machine, where several hundred dollars was withdrawn. Taken to an abandoned house for a time, the attacker and victim went to a second location. She recalls driving over railroad tracks, but couldn’t see where, because her attacker covered her with a blanket.

They then returned the house, whereupon her attacker left, and she was able to untie herself. She recalls him telling her, “If you call the police, we’ll find you and kill you.”

Unable to find her cellphone, the victim contacted her roommate via Facebook. The roommate came to the house about 6 AM, whereupon she found the house ransacked, the victim traumatized, and concerned that the perpetrators might still be nearby. TVs, laptop computers, and other electronic equipment were missing, the roommate said.

After traveling to the roommate’s parents home, they contacted the Ruston Police Department.

During cross examination, Mays’ attorney James Buckley focused on the poor visibility at that time of night.

Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) Stephanie Gullette testified that she observed abrasions and bruising on the victim’s arms, chest, and elbows, and that a pelvic exam revealed symptoms consistent with those commonly observed after a sexual assault.

Testimony will resume tomorrow morning at 9 AM.

Opening Statements Today in State v Mays

04/26/2016

Opening statements will be heard at 1:00 PM today in Courtroom 1, Third Judicial (Lincoln, Union Parishes) District Court in Ruston, in State of Louisiana v Cameron Mays.

Courtroom 1 is on the second floor of the Lincoln Parish Court House.

Mays is being tried in connection with several crimes that allegedly occurred in the Cypress Springs area of Ruston in June of 2012. In this particular trial, Mays is charged with aggravated rape, aggravated kidnapping, and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

In court yesterday afternoon, jury selection was completed from three fourteen member panels, with 12 jurors selected and two alternates.

The jury is comprised of 6 men and 6 women.

Extensive interviews of the panelists was conducted by Division B Judge Tommy Rogers, prosecutor Mike Ruddick, and defense attorney James Buckley.

Questions included the prospective juror’s occupation, marital status, whether they had children, if they had ever been a crime victim, and whether they knew or were related to anyone in law enforcement. Also, they were quizzed on their opinions about various types of crimes and whether they could render a fair verdict.

Several prospective jurors noted that the duty would work a hardship on their workplace obligations.

Rogers ruled a pending motion for a change of venue to be moot, as the jury was successfully empaneled. The motion alleged pretrial publicity. Of the 42 potential jurors, two said they had heard of the case.

Jury Selection Underway in Mays Trial

04/25/2016

Jury selection began this morning in Third Judicial (Lincoln, Union Parishes) District Court in Ruston for the trial of Cameron Mays. The trial is expected to last three to four days, it was said.

The first of three panels of fourteen prospective jurors underwent questioning by Division B Judge Tommy Rogers as to the jurors residence, occupation, marital status, and children. He also asked whether any of the panel knew the attorneys, the accused, any local law enforcement, or any of the witnesses that might be called, and whether that knowledge might prejudice the juror’s deliberations.

Mays is charged with aggravated rape, aggravated kidnapping, and possession of a firearm in the commission of a felony. Second Degree murder charges against Mays are still pending.

Prosecuting the case is Assistant Attorney General Mike Ruddick. Mays’ defense attorney is James Buckley.

Earlier today, Brandon Bonton was in court, where his trial date was moved to September 26. His trial was originally set for today. He is charged with accessory to 2nd degree murder, accessory to burglary, possession of stolen things, and theft of a firearm. He is a possible witness in the Mays trial.

Representing Bonton is Robert Noel.