Motion filed to have federal judge removed from case
BATON ROUGE - Less than a week after a story by the News 2 Investigative Unit highlighted questions about federal Judge Shelly Dick and one of her closest staffers, a defense lawyer filed a motion to have the judge removed from his client's case.
Our report showed the judge does not disclose to people that come through her courtroom that she employs the wife of U.S. Attorney Walt Green as her law clerk. Attorney Kathy Krupa Green serves as the judge's right hand, writing legal opinions and doing research on cases according to legal experts. Although Green is recused from cases involving the U.S. Attorney's Office, many believe the judge should still disclose that Green works for her when people come through her courtroom.
Attorney David Courcelle filed the motion to have Judge Dick removed from a case involving his client, Raymond Reggie, who faces an indictment for federal wire fraud. Courcelle declined to comment today, but according to the documents he filed in court, "The defendant is led to believe that the court had something to hide. Otherwise, disclosure would have been made."
Other legal analysts who didn't want to go on camera agreed that disclosure needs to be made.
"There are two issues," said New Orleans legal analyst Joe Raspanti. "One is the judge should have disclosed that the U.S. Attorney's wife worked for her, and the second is there needs to be no appearance of partiality to lay people and you have to believe your judges are fair."
Southern Law Professor Shenequa Grey also believes all parties should have been given the courtesy of knowing that the U.S. Attorney's wife works for Judge Dick.
"The disclosure helps promote public confidence in the situation," Grey said.
According to the motion filed in court, "This very fact does not promote confidence in the defendant that the court will be impartial, especially when the court fails to disclose that she employs the wife of the U.S. Attorney."
Former U.S. Attorney Don Cazayoux believes Judge Dick doesn't have to disclose that information to people who come through her courtroom.
"The case law is clear," Cazayoux said. "It is the law clerk who has the issue. If a law clerk has a conflict of interest, that's who needs to be disqualified, not the judge."
Although Cazayoux doesn't think Judge Dick did anything questionable, others aren't so sure.
"In order for a court to protect itself and integrity of its opinions, it would be in the best interest to always disclose that information so you would not have anyone even question your ability to be fair and impartial and to promote public confidence," Grey said.
"Going through all of this, I think it probably could have been handled smoother with a little earlier disclosure," Raspanti added.
Judge Dick did not return our calls seeking a comment on this story.
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