Ad hoc judge plans to exclude all evidence except counsel’s arguments

An ad hoc judge presiding over a Monroe businessman’s lawsuit against Fourth Judicial District Court officials has ordered counsel to present arguments at a hearing in early March.

However, retired Judge Jerry Barbera indicated he likely would not allow other forms of evidence such as witness testimony during a hearing that’s scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. on Friday, March 4.

The lawsuit against court officials was initiated in 2015 by Stanley R. Palowsky III, the plaintiff, who claimed district court law clerk Allyson Campbell destroyed or concealed documents his attorneys filed with the court in a lawsuit Palowsky filed against a former business partner. In Stanley R. Palowsky III vs. Allyson Campbell and others, Palowsky also accused five district court judges of covering up Campbell’s activity. The defendant judges are Stephens Winters, Wilson Rambo, Fred Amman, Carl Sharp and Ben Jones, who now serves as the court’s administrator.

Barbera, a former district court judge from Lafourche Parish, warned in a Jan. 11 order he would only allow evidence such as information contained in counsel’s pleadings as well as verbal arguments.

“It is further ordered that the Court does not anticipate receiving any other evidence on the issues of contempt and sanctions other than consideration of the pleadings, and especially those parts of the pleadings struck by order of the Court, the motions filed, and the Court will hear argument of counsel in support of and in opposition to the motions,” Barbera wrote.

Barbera’s order was signed Jan. 8 in Thibodeaux. The document was filed at the Ouachita Parish Clerk of Court’s office on Jan. 11.

At the March 4 hearing, Barbera is expected to entertain pending motions for contempt and sanctions. Those motions were filed by Campbell and the five defendant judges.

It is unclear whether the hearing will be held in open court since Barbera sealed the lawsuit against court officials in November. It is the judge’s discretion on whether to close the courtroom.

Attorneys representing Campbell and the five defendant judges have described the court pleadings submitted by Palowsky’s attorneys, Joe Ward of Covington and Sedric Banks of Monroe, as “scandalous” and “immaterial.”

In November 2015, Barbera agreed with the defendants’ position on several points and ordered several allegations in Palowsky’s pleadings to be struck from the record.

At the March 4 hearing, Palowsky and his attorneys could face possible charges of contempt of court as well as other sanctions.

In November, Barbera dismissed Palowsky’s lawsuit with prejudice, claiming Campbell and the judges enjoyed judicial immunity and were therefore shielded from litigation.

Previously, Barbera ruled to stay discovery, or to forbid the taking of depositions and submission of interrogatories among other actions. The Second Circuit Court of Appeal upheld Barbera’s ruling in spite of Palowsky’s appeal claiming Barbera’s move would deprive the plaintiff of the “chance to obtain evidence to present at the hearing.”

Palowsky is prohibited from initiating discovery before the March 4 hearing, too, according to Barbera. Barbera said his order staying discovery previously issued “shall remain in full force and effect” concerning pending hearing on the motions for contempt and sanctions.

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