And you wonder why Jerome Larkin has a problem
Some Fourth Judicial District Court judges, who face claims for damages in a lawsuit filed in federal court by their peer Judge Sharon Marchman, filed pleadings Monday arguing they cannot be sued for acts of corruption or malice.
The four defendant judges making that argument are judges Fred Amman, Wilson Rambo and Carl Sharp as well as retired Judge Ben Jones, who now serves as court administrator, at Fourth Judicial District Court for Ouachita and Morehouse parishes. They are represented by special assistant attorney general Brian D. Landry, of Shreveport.
Those four judges are just a few of a handful of defendants who Marchman claimed violated her constitutional rights when she tried to expose the defendants’ concerted efforts to cover up law clerk Allyson Campbell’s alleged payroll fraud and document destruction.
In her lawsuit filed April 19 in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana, Marchman is seeking damages from the judges, Campbell, their attorneys as well as from former Attorney General Buddy Caldwell.
Many of the same defendants also were sued by Monroe businessman Stanley Palowsky III in Fourth Judicial District Court. Palowsky’s July 2015 lawsuit against Campbell and the judges detailed many of the same allegations that appeared in Marchman’s lawsuit. Marchman is represented in her federal lawsuit by attorneys Sedric Banks of Monroe and Joe Ward of Covington, who also represent Palowsky in his district court litigation.
“It is from this diseased root system of a state court action that Plaintiff Judge Marchman’s civil rights’ lawsuit arises, with even the same gardeners, in the form of Mr. Palowsky’s own attorneys seeking to tend the same noxious vines in this federal action,” stated a proposed memorandum filed Monday by the four defendant judges in U.S. District Court.
As of Tuesday afternoon, the four defendant judges were awaiting approval of their proposed memorandum since it exceeded the page count requirements under federal court guidelines.
In their proposed memorandum, the four defendant judges urged U.S. District Court Judge Maurice Hicks Jr. to follow the example of ad hoc Judge Jerry Barbera, of Thibodeaux, who dismissed Palowsky’s lawsuit against Campbell and the judges in November 2015 on the grounds of judicial immunity. At that time, Barbera ruled that judges and law clerks were shielded from lawsuits — even if they committed criminal acts — because they performed a necessary judicial function.
“The alleged cover-up allegations are the most egregious, as Plaintiff Judge Marchman is accusing the Defendant Judges of what constitutes essentially corruption,” stated the judges’ memorandum. “Although not specifically pled, there is also an undercurrent of implied malice, when Plaintiff Judge Marchman asserts her retaliation charge.”
“However, acts of corruption or malice, even if true, do not affect absolute judicial immunity,” the judges added.
The defendant judges argued further that a U.S. District Court judge must set “all its experience and common sense aside (to) find some viable constitutional claim” in Marchman’s lawsuit. If that happened, the judges were still protected under judicial immunity, they argued.
The defendant judges claim Marchman, like other judges of the court, did not believe any crime had been committed when allegations first surfaced that Campbell had committed payroll fraud. That matter was discussed during a personnel committee meeting among Fourth Judicial District Court judges, but Marchman didn’t ask an outside authority to investigate, the judges said.
“… (Marchman) did not recommend referral of the payroll issue to any law enforcement or prosecuting authority for investigation or prosecution,” the judges’ memorandum stated.
The defendant judges argued Marchman’s claims that her constitutional rights were violated can be boiled down to frustration with other judges who did not agree with her administrative recommendations concerning Campbell.
“Plaintiff Judge Marchman may truly be a pariah, or an outcast among her peers, but that status appears to be of her own making, and not the actions of the Defendant Judges,” the judges’ memorandum stated.
Marchman’s claim that her free speech rights as a private citizen were violated rings false, the judges argued, especially since private citizens do not generally enjoy the right to participate in the judges’ personnel committee meetings.
“For whatever reason, Mr. Palowsky, Plaintiff Judge Marchman, and their attorneys do not like this law clerk,” stated the judges’ memorandum. “Further, Plaintiff Judge Marchman is unhappy with her judicial colleagues’ decisions concerning the law clerk, even to the point where Plaintiff Judge Marchman moved for discharge of employment, and none of the other 10 members of the bench would allegedly second her motion.”