Judge who recused himself in COA Director's litigation can stay on case involving same parties
BATON ROUGE- Questions are being raised about why Judge Wilson Fields has not recused himself from a case involving the same parties he recused himself before on pending litigation.
Helen Plummer was days away from her 95th birthday when she was driven to the Southern University Elder Law Clinic to have a will drafted. That will would have benefited the Executive Director of the Council on Aging, Tasha Clark Amar. The will was drawn up by fired Southern Law Professor Dorothy Jackson who still sits as a Board Member at the Council on Aging. Jackson was fired by Southern and lost her appeal after an independent investigation revealed problems in the way she did the will.
As that battle played out, Clark Amar sued the Plummer family after they spoke publicly about her. Judge Fields removed himself last year from hearing Council on Aging Director Tasha Clark Amar's lawsuit against the Plummer family. But, when the Plummer family sued Clark Amar, Fields did not recuse himself. Thursday, all parties were in court to hash it out, and Judge Michael Caldwell ruled that there was no evidence presented that showed Fields couldn't be impartial.
The Plummer family agreed but asked why he recused himself on Clark Amar's litigation and not theirs when it involves all the same people.
"The judge was correct, he made no decisions that have showed any prejudice," Robert Garrity, attorney for the Plummer family said. "Our concern is, judge, you recused yourself one time with the exact same parties. Why are you not doing it this time?"
No straight answer came from the courtroom, since Judge Fields was never subpoenaed to testify. However, a team of six attorneys representing various governmental agencies that have been sued as a result of a controversial will that was drafted said this was nothing more than a waste of time.
"This was just another ploy by Ms. Antoine and Mr. Garrity to try to play the court if you will," Joel Porter said. "The judge found there was no basis on law or evidence to recuse Judge Fields."
Other attorneys who also showed up said Judge Michael Caldwell made the right decision not to take Judge Fields off the case.
"We think the law that the judge used is the fair law," Al Perkins said. "The proper law the law stated in our brief. We are here to do our job, and part of that is put the best info and arguments in front of the court."
Garrity said the fact that a team of attorneys are trying to defend these actions is unreal.
"Our government, which is allegedly broke, is paying all those people," Garrity said. "Most of them are on the government payroll to defend the actions that are indefensible. That's what's disappointing as a tax-paying citizen."
Garrity said since this case is already under a lot of scrutiny, he believes Judge Fields should have been consistent since he already recused himself involving litigation with the same individuals.
"The wagons have been circled to protect the establishment," Garrity said. "That's the appearance I get as a lawyer from the outside. Everyone is on the same page and have put up this wall and we want to protect what's going on in Baton Rouge."
Garrity hasn't said whether or not he will appeal.