Fourth Judicial District Court Judge Sharon Marchman

A number of defendants sued by Fourth Judicial District Court Judge Sharon Marchman in federal court filed motions last week to dismiss her lawsuit, arguing Marchman has given no proof to support her “bizarre” and “sensational” allegations.

Marchman’s allegations that law clerk Allyson Campbell committed payroll fraud and concealed or destroyed court filings form the center of her lawsuit before U.S. District Court Judge Maurice Hicks. In her lawsuit, Marchman claims nine defendants — including Campbell, four district court judges and their attorneys — conspired to cover up Campbell’s activities and retaliated against Marchman for trying to uncover their efforts.

A number of the accusations levied and defendants named in Marchman’s lawsuit also are at the heart of litigation pursued in Fourth Judicial District Court by Monroe businessman Stanley R. Palowsky III. It was in Palowsky’s lawsuit against his former business partner, Brandon Cork, that the accusations of payroll fraud and document destruction against Campbell first surfaced. Later those accusations were the basis of Palowsky’s July 2015 lawsuit, also filed in Fourth Judicial District Court, against the law clerk and five district court judges.

Since last week, the defendants who filed pleadings and motions to dismiss Marchman’s claims in U.S. District Court included Campbell; Campbell’s attorney Brian Crawford, of Monroe; Monroe attorney Jon Guice, who represented Fourth Judicial District Court and some of its judges in related litigation; and former Attorney General Buddy Caldwell, who appointed a taxpayer-paid defense for Campbell in Palowsky v. Campbell.

“...(C)onspicuously absent from Plaintiff Judge Marchman’s Complaint is any direct proof of her defamatory accusations that Campbell committed payroll fraud and destroyed documents and Fourth Judicial District Court conspired to cover it up,” stated Crawford’s memorandum in support of his motion to dismiss.

Caldwell and Campbell also challenged the factual nature of Marchman’s claims. The former attorney general argued that Marchman’s “conclusory allegations lack any substance and fail to contain sufficient factual support.”

“This suit contains many bizarre allegations against the various defendants, some of which border on being sensational,” stated Campbell’s motion to dismiss.

Crawford’s lengthy memorandum and numerous exhibits as well as Campbell’s, Guice’s and Caldwell’s filings are all available online at www.ouachitacitizen.com

According to Guice’s memorandum, Marchman filed her federal lawsuit in April because of a “refusal to acknowledge the results of an investigation” by the Office of State Inspector General, which said there was no “sufficient cause” to arrest Campbell, referring to Inspector General Stephen Street’s April 15 letter on the findings of his office’s investigation. Guice’s point was echoed in filings submitted to the court by Campbell and Crawford.

Campbell claims Marchman’s lawsuit in federal court is a repetition of Palowsky’s lawsuit, which was dismissed by an ad hoc judge in Fourth Judicial District Court. That ad hoc judge dismissed Palowsky v. Campbell, claiming law clerks and judges were shielded from litigation, even if they committed criminal acts. The dismissal of Palowsky v. Campbell was appealed to the Second Circuit Court of Appeal in Shreveport where the case is now pending.

“In reality, the current federal litigation (filed by Marchman) is nothing more than a repetition of the claims of Palowsky, unsuccessfully presented and properly dismissed in the 4th JDC,” stated Campbell’s motion to dismiss.

In support of that statement, Campbell compares similar parts of Palowsky’s filings from Palowsky v. Campbell with information presented in Marchman’s filings. Though Palowsky’s and Marchman’s lawsuits share similar details, Marchman contends her lawsuit arises out of the defendants’ alleged violations of her constitutional rights: she accused the defendants of retaliating against her for trying to shed light on the accusations that formed the center of Palowsky’s lawsuit.

Campbell and Crawford both noted the close association of Palowsky and Marchman, outside of their respective lawsuits. Attorneys Sedric Banks of Monroe and Joe Ward of Covington are representing both Palowsky and Marchman.

“...Crawford challenges Plaintiff Judge Marchman to deny her long-standing acquaintance, close friendship and representation of Mr. Palowsky and his family,” stated Crawford’s memorandum.

Campbell’s and Crawford’s pleadings both claimed Marchman’s activities and lawsuit formed part of a vendetta against the law clerk.

In Campbell’s motion to dismiss, she claimed Marchman was unable to refer to any “motive, intent, plan or opportunity on the part of Ms. Campbell to harm the plaintiff.”

“This unfounded suit resulted from an intra-office dispute that has developed into a character assassination against Campbell, as well as several respected elected officials and the attorneys who represent them,” stated Campbell’s motion to dismiss.

In his 45-page memorandum in support of a motion to dismiss, Crawford portrayed Marchman as the sole source who consistently supplied Palowsky and his attorneys with confidential and private information from Campbell’s personnel file, though the attorney showed no documents supporting that claim.

“From the proliferation of litigation surrounding her unremarkable duties as law clerk for the Fourth Judicial District Court, it is evident that someone has it out for Allyson Campbell and will move heaven, earth, state and federal courts to exact their pound of flesh from her or her attorneys,” stated Crawford’s memorandum. “What is unclear from a review of plaintiffs multiple complaints however, is the identity(ies) of the villain(s) of this piece out of the recurring cast of characters.”

In his memorandum, Crawford outlined a long chronology of the various lawsuits and other events concerning the accusations against Campbell. Crawford questioned Marchman’s position that her disclosure of information to Palowsky, Banks and Ward was in response to an Aug. 17, 2015 subpoena duces tecum. Crawford argued Marchman had disclosed confidential information concerning Campbell earlier than that date.

“One must inquire who was the source of these early personnel disclosures,” stated Crawford’s memorandum, referring to both Citizen reporter Johnny Gunter’s public records requests pertaining to Campbell’s personnel file and the mentions of Campbell’s personnel file contents in pleadings filed by Banks and Ward.

According to Guice and other defendants, Marchman’s and Palowsky’s lawsuits relied on information from Campbell’s private personnel file, which was barred from disclosure by an ad hoc judge’s June 2015 ruling in Fourth Judicial District Court.

Notably, Crawford’s chronology suggested there was a common source to Gunter, Palowsky, Banks and Ward concerning the court’s administration of the law clerk as well as of details pertaining to Campbell’s personnel file, but Crawford’s chronology did not point to any person or entity as the source, though his pleading later claimed Marchman was responsible for the disclosures all along.

Later in Crawford’s pleading, he contended Marchman was the source for information presented in Banks’ and Ward’s pleadings, though Banks and Ward did not identify Marchman as a potential witness until Oct. 28, 2015, three months after Palowsky v. Campbell was first filed.

“She had not been served with the August 2015 subpoena duces tecum, which she now claims allowed her disclosure, when Messrs. Ward and Banks filed the July 2015 Petition and Supplemental Petition airing the contents of Campbell’s privilege personnel file — which they contend came from her!” stated Crawford’s memorandum.

Crawford’s claim that Marchman was the sole source for Palowsky, Banks and Ward relied on a statement made by Ward in open court that a judge “inside the court” had confirmed certain allegations, but Ward made that statement in November 2015 after submitting a pleading in Palowsky v. Campbell as to what Marchman could testify to if testimony was allowed in open court. The ad hoc judge did not allow testimony in court or for Palowsky to take depositions. Crawford and other attorneys in Palowsky v. Campbell objected to testimony and the taking of depositions.

Meanwhile, Campbell’s motion to dismiss also outlined her 14-year work history at Fourth Judicial District Court.

“She was hired by Judge Michael Ingram and her supervising judges have included Judge Marcus Clark, Judge D. Milton Moore, III, as well as defendant Judges Amman, Sharp and Rambo,” stated Campbell’s motion to dismiss.

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