New records obtained by WBRZ show deep wedge in heated spat between sheriff, D.A. and jilted judge
NAPOLEONVILLE – New documents obtained by the WBRZ Investigative Unit outline a deeper wedge between an embattled former judge and the law responsible for policing the streets of Assumption Parish.
Jessie Leblanc resigned after WBRZ was first to report in December of an affair between her and Assumption Parish Chief Deputy Bruce Prejean and then her use of a racial slur in a string of text messages between her and the deputy as their affair fell apart. After telling WBRZ the text messages were falsified, the judge revealed they were authentic. She quit her post as a judge in the 23rd Judicial District covering Assumption, Ascension and St. James parishes.
In a December 2019 memo from Sheriff Leland Falcon to District Attorney Ricky Babin, Falcon writes of concerns and inaccuracies he believed he uncovered while investigating why Leblanc, then a judge, denied at least two warrants in sheriff’s office drugs investigations.
Falcon told Babin, Leblanc denied warrants citing a lack of evidence. Leblanc told the sheriff she consulted with other judges who also found problems with the warrant and agreed it should be rejected, Falcon alleged in the letter to Babin.
However, Falcon revealed in his note, the then-judge may not have been truthful. He wrote in later discussions with other district judges it was apparent Leblanc never fully conferred with colleagues.
One of the other judges later told the sheriff “he had not previously reviewed the warrant” and “identified inconsistencies in information provided in text by Judge Leblanc and contents of the warrant.”
The sheriff outlined two cases in his letter to the district attorney. A second incident was resolved when another judged signed a warrant and sheriff’s deputies later found additional drugs in the possession of the suspect, the sheriff said.
But, there’s more. The sheriff found later, the suspect arrested was assigned to appear before Jessie Leblanc, who was then a judge. The sheriff asked the judge be removed from the case since she previously denied the warrant related to the suspect.
The letter was marked two days before Christmas 2019. WBRZ broke the stories of the rift amid the group a few days later – just after Christmas.
In January, the sheriff wrote to judges in the district and the sheriff alerting them to the department’s plan to “seek the recusal of Judge Leblanc from all matters involving the Assumption Parish Sheriff’s Office.”
Leblanc and her attorney, Jill Craft, have filed petitions to review correspondence between many officials in the 23rd Judicial District.
An interim judge has been appointed to fill the judge’s docket in 23rd Judicial District courts.
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