Fifth District Congressman Ralph Abraham and his chief of staff were issued subpoenas last week as part of an ongoing controversy surrounding a Monroe attorney's efforts to secure the recusal of Fifth Judicial District Court Judge Terry Doughty from his case.
The April 20 subpoenas issued to Abraham, R-Alto, and his chief aide, Luke Letlow, of Start, ordered the pair to appear at the Franklin Parish Courthouse in Winnsboro next week for a hearing concerning Doughty's possible recusal from a 2014 breach of contract lawsuit, KT Farms and others v. Citizens Progressive Bank and others.
Five individuals, including Abraham and Letlow, were issued subpoenas by Sedric Banks, an attorney in Monroe.
Banks' subpoenas sought a wide range of information such as Facebook communications, details about a traffic fatality in 2007, and a possible effort to have Doughty named a federal judge.
In the KT Farms lawsuit, Banks claimed Doughty exhibited bias and prejudice against him in a separate lawsuit in Fifth Judicial District Court. That bias had not disappeared, Banks has argued.
As previously reported by The Ouachita Citizen, Banks claimed Doughty could not remain unbiased in the KT Farms lawsuit because of some allegedly hostile remarks Doughty made about Banks' past cases. Doughty's remarks are reproduced below. The judge offered the remarks during an Aug. 25, 2016 hearing in David Dewayne Stowe Sr. and others v. Donald Slade Jordan and others.
“...everything is not a — the world's not against you and everybody's not trying to — get you all the time, it's always complicated, every case you have is always complicated, attorneys are doing things to undermine you, all these things and I don't understand why everybody's picking on you instead of anybody else, but it happens in every case you have...” said Doughty, according to a hearing transcript.
Last week, Banks also issued a subpoena to Doughty, listing numerous questions, inquiring how Doughty became familiar with his cases.
“...the purpose of the subpoena is not to harass Honorable Judge Doughty, but rather to gain testimony as to facts, circumstances and information not protected from disclosure by the judicial deliberative process privilege and probative grounds for recusal for bias and prejudice against plaintiffs' counsel...” stated Bank's subpoenas.
In a hearing earlier this month for the KT Farms lawsuit, Banks suggested Letlow and others had possibly spoken to Doughty about the attorney's past litigation.
In his subpoenas, Banks elaborated on what information he sought from Abraham and Letlow. According to Banks, he wanted to know whether Abraham, Letlow or others had spoken to Doughty about “whether or not the undersigned attorney (Banks) was either 'messing up,' diminishing or impeding Honorable Judge Doughty's chances of either being appointed and/or confirmed as federal judge,” according to the April 20 subpoena.
Federal judges are appointed by the president of the United States, based on recommendations from U.S. senators, though members of the U.S. House of Representatives, such as Abraham, could have some influence about who a senator recommends for appointment.
Meanwhile, David Stephens, a Delhi tax preparer, and his wife, Michelle Ogden Stephens, also were issued subpoenas last week.
Stephens was a defendant in Stowe v. Jordan, from which Doughty recused himself after Banks filed a motion to recuse. Among his reasons for recusing from Stowe v. Jordan, Doughty acknowledged he had a business relationship with Stephens as well as a personal relationship with Michelle Stephens. In Stowe v. Jordan, Doughty did not disclose his relationship with the Stephens couple until more than a year after he was assigned the case.
Banks' subpoenas and his questions — which challenge nearly every complete thought presented in Doughty's remarks during the Aug. 25, 2016 hearing.
Banks outlined several facts or information sought on three pages of his subpoenas, as required by a court order earlier this month from Fifth Judicial District Court Judge James “Jimbo” Stephens. Jimbo Stephens is presiding over Doughty's recusal hearing, which is set for May 3.
Some of the other facts sought by Banks concern Doughty's history with the Stephens couple, including one question about Michelle Ogden Stephens' late husband, Randy Ogden, who died in 2007.
“Honorable Judge Doughty's social relationship and/or professional relationship with Michelle Ogden Stephens in 2007, about the time Ms. Stephens became a widow, as well as any knowledge Honorable Judge Doughty has or may have concerning any blood tests, alcohol tests and/or drug screens involving the death of Ms. Stephens' husband at the time,” stated Banks' subpoenas. “Honorable Judge Doughty's knowledge of investigation protocols involving traffic fatalities in 2007.”
Banks' subpoena also stated he sought “any and all communications, direct or indirect, within (the) last three years with (Facebook) friends, including without limitation, George Campbell, Menon Campbell, and/or Christine Yuen Wong pertaining in any way to either Allyson Campbell.”
Allyson Campbell is a defendant in a controversial lawsuit pursued by one of Banks' clients, Monroe businessman Stanley Palowsky III, in Fourth Judicial District Court in Monroe: Stanley R. Palowsky III v. Allyson Campbell and others. In the Palowsky v. Campbell lawsuit, Banks' client sued Allyson Campbell, a law clerk at the Ouachita Parish Courthouse in Monroe, as well as five district court judges, claiming the clerk and judges conspired to conceal public payroll fraud and the destruction of court documents. That lawsuit is on appeal.
Earlier this month, Banks defended his previous decision to issue a subpoena to Fourth Judicial District Court Judge Sharon Marchman, calling her to testify at Doughty's recusal hearing. The subpoenas issued by Banks last week represented a second opportunity to issues subpoenas with specificity, as allowed by Jimbo Stephens, but a second subpoena to Marchman was conspicuously absent from Banks' subpoenas last week.
Previously, Jimbo Stephens as well as defendants' attorneys in the KT Farms lawsuit raised several concerns about what matters Marchman could possibly testify to once she was on the stand.
Like Palowsky, Marchman also hired Banks to sue Allyson Campbell and a handful of Monroe judges for allegedly conspiring to conceal criminal activities among other allegations. Marchman's lawsuit was dismissed in U.S. District Court, though she has announced plans to appeal her case to the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.