A hearing to determine whether testimony will be allowed and whether depositions will be taken in a Monroe businessman’s lawsuit against officials at Fourth Judicial District Court is scheduled for 10 a.m. Friday at the Ouachita Parish Courthouse.
The focus of Friday’s hearing involves the plaintiff, Stanley R. Palowsky III, who sued Fourth Judicial District Court law clerk Allyson Campbell, four judges and a former judge over a host of allegations stemming from Palowsky’s lawsuit against a former business partner.
Defendants in Stanley R. Palowsky III vs. Allyson Campbell and others include Campbell, Chief Judge Stephens Winters, court administrator and former judge Ben Jones as well as current judges Carl Sharp, Wilson Rambo and Fred Amman. Each defendant has filed exceptions to Palowsky’s suit with the court.
Palowsky first sued Campbell, accusing her of destroying or intentionally concealing court documents that caused him financial damage in his original lawsuit against his former business partner, Brandon Cork, and others. That lawsuit is Stanley R. Palowsky III vs. W. Brandon Cork and others. The lawsuit against Campbell was filed July 22 and was amended on July 31 to name the four judges and former judge as defendants, claiming the five individuals were involved in “aiding and abetting Campbell by concealing her wrongdoings...”
Ad hoc Judge Jerome “Jerry” Barbera III, a retired district court judge from Lafourche Parish, was appointed by the state Supreme Court to hear Stanley R. Palowsky III vs. Allyson Campbell and others. Supreme Court Justice Marcus Clark, who represents northeastern Louisiana on the Supreme Court, signed Barbera’s appointment order.
Monroe attorneys Brian Crawford, representing Campbell, and Jon Guice, representing the judges, argued Palowsky’s lawsuit should be dismissed in its entirety based on defendants’ exceptions of no cause of action, no right of action and lack of subject matter.
Crawford stated in his petition that all charges made against his client are “redundant, immaterial, impertinent and/or scandalous.” Crawford’s petition also stated that Palowsky’s attorneys, Joe Ward of Covington and Sedric Banks of Monroe, should be sanctioned and held in contempt for inserting scandalous, frivolous or indecent matter in a pleading.
Crawford and Guice stated in their petitions to dismiss Palowsky’s lawsuit that testimony should not be allowed. Ward and Banks countered, arguing that justice cannot be delivered without allowing testimony or taking depositions.
“While defendants have styled their pleadings as motions to stay discovery, the motions are effectively requests for a protective order which would prevent Palowsky from being able to conduct any discovery whatsoever to controvert the multiple exceptions and motions filed by defendants,” Ward and Banks wrote in opposition to defendants’ motion to stay discovery.
Ward’s and Banks’ opposition to defendants’ motion to stay discovery was filed Tuesday.
The matters at the heart of Palowsky’s lawsuit against Campbell and the judges first surfaced in a motion to recuse Rambo from presiding over Stanley R. Palowsky III vs. W. Brandon Cork and others. In Ward’s and Banks’ motion to recuse Rambo, Campbell, serving as Rambo’s law clerk, was accused of destroying or intentionally withholding court documents. Rambo recused himself from presiding over the case but denied any bias was exhibited against Palowsky or his attorneys.
The motion to recuse Rambo sparked The Ouachita Citizen’s investigation into the case and led to the newspaper submitting numerous public records requests for documents from Fourth Judicial District Court. Some documents were produced by the district court while others were withheld. The newspaper eventually filed a criminal complaint with Fourth Judicial District Attorney Jerry Jones’ office, asking for an investigation into the failure of the court to release requested documents and also to investigate possible payroll discrepancies first revealed in an audit of the court’s finances.
Later, the District Attorney’s office as well as the state’s Office of Inspector General and Louisiana State Police initiated an investigation into the district court. The investigation is ongoing.
In Ward’s and Banks’ filing with the court Tuesday, the plaintiff attorneys claimed Campbell submitted “a self-serving affidavit” supporting her exception of prescription and claimed her argument that neither Palowsky nor anyone else can depose her is “disingenuous at best.”
“Campbell should be stopped from submitting an affidavit claiming that she had nothing to do with certain missing pleadings and then asking the Court to ‘stay’ discovery because it would be ‘unfair’ for her to have to opt to either assert her rights against self-incrimination or to defend herself here,” Ward’s and Banks’ filing said.
“What would be unfair would be to let Campbell swear under oath that she was innocent of Palowsky’s accusations and then to prevent him from questioning Campbell as to her defenses. On the other hand, what would be proper would be to permit Palowsky to depose Campbell and question her about her destruction of court documents, her personal relationships with Defendant Judges, and whether she has removed, destroyed, or altered court documents at the instruction of Defendant Judges.”
In Guice’s filing of exceptions, he contended the defendant judges have immunity from testifying or being deposed.
Ward and Banks argued Fourth Judicial District Court Judge Sharon Marchman could offer critical testimony in Palowsky’s lawsuit against Campbell and the judges. Ward’s and Banks’ filing stated Marchman was chairman of the district court’s personnel committee “at the pertinent times and will testify regarding the investigation, or lack thereof, of Campbell’s destruction, concealment, and/or mishandling of court documents, work habits, and payroll fraud.”
“(Marchman) will also be able to testify as to what lengths Defendant Judges went to conceal Campbell’s felonious acts,” Ward’s and Banks’ filing stated. “Judge Marchman will be able to testify approximately when said cover-up began, and who was involved. Lastly, she will be able to testify that all these actions by Defendant Judges were administrative in nature and, therefore, not subject to immunity.”
Palowsky is seeking to be compensated for any and all damages that he and his business, Alternative Environmental Solutions Inc. (AESI), have “suffered as the result of Campbell’s fraud, conspiracy to commit fraud, abuse of process, destruction or concealment of public records, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and violation of his Louisiana constitutional rights of due process and access to the courts.” In his lawsuit against his former business partner Cork, Palowsky claimed he and AESI lost millions of dollars.