Posted: Feb 9, 2010 10:56 AM by Associated Press
Updated: Feb 9, 2010 11:04 AM
A state judge refused Monday to put the brakes on a lawsuit against a Baton Rouge man accused of putting a hangman's noose in a black colleague's work area in 2008.
Reginald Drummer sued Reggie Parent in October on the anniversary of Parent's arrest under Louisiana's new anti-noose law that went into effect in August 2008.
Parent's attorney, Mark Carver, asked District Judge Mike Caldwell to put the civil suit on hold because Parent still has not been formally charged by prosecutors or a grand jury. Carver argued that anything Parent says in the civil proceeding could prejudice him in the pending criminal matter.
"He's caught between that proverbial rock and a hard place," Carver said.
Drummer's attorney, Lindsey Scott, countered that the criminal charge against Parent is not set for trial and said Drummer should not be forced to wait "indefinitely" on the criminal proceedings.
In the end, Caldwell denied Parent's motion to stay the civil case but said he might reconsider his ruling if there are developments in the criminal matter.
East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Hillar Moore III said in an interview his office has not decided whether to pursue misdemeanor or felony charges against Parent or whether the matter will be presented to a grand jury.
The arrest of Parent, who is white, was the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's Office's first under the new anti-noose law, which makes the public display of a noose with the intent to intimidate a felony. Conviction could carry up to a year in prison or a $5,000 fine, or both.
At the time of the alleged incident, Drummer was a roughneck employed at Louis J. Capozzoli and Associates, a subsidiary of GeoEngineers Inc.
Drummer's suit, which seeks an unspecified amount of damages, also names GeoEngineers as a defendant. The suit alleges "intentional infliction of emotional harm and distress, as well as assault."