Brian Crawford asks court to forbid any discovery
Monroe attorney Brian Crawford wants U.S. District Court Judge Maurice Hicks to impose sanctions against Fourth Judicial District Court Judge Sharon Marchman and her attorneys over the federal lawsuit they filed against Crawford, district court judges, law clerk Allyson Campbell and other attorneys involved in the suit on behalf of the defense.
In his motion for sanctions filed Tuesday, Crawford said Marchman and her attorneys — Joe Ward of Covington and Sedric Banks of Monroe — should face penalties because they had not revealed any facts to support allegations that Crawford conspired with others to retaliate against or harm Marchman's constitutional rights.
“If ever a case called for sanctions, it is this one,” Crawford's motion stated. “As an attorney, it is disheartening to see a sitting judge and two seasoned attorneys persist in manipulation of the legal system for non-justiciable quarrels.”
Marchman argued her constitutional rights were violated when she tried to uncover Campbell's alleged payroll fraud and destruction of court filings in Fourth Judicial District Court.
According to Marchman, several judges at Fourth Judicial District Court, the defendants’ attorneys and former Attorney General Buddy Caldwell also helped cover up Campbell's activities. Marchman's claims bear many similarities to litigation pursued in state court by Monroe businessman Stanley R. Palowsky III, where the allegations against Campbell and the defendant judges first arose. Ward and Banks also are Palowsky's attorneys.
Crawford's call for sanctions was not the only filing submitted by defendants in federal court Tuesday. Campbell and Monroe attorney Jon Guice, who represented the defendant judges against Palowsky's lawsuit (Stanley R. Palowsky III v. Allyson Campbell and others), also filed memoranda. The defendants previously asked the court to dismiss Marchman's lawsuit, which Marchman recently rebutted.
Marchman's arguments to sustain her lawsuit aren't supported in facts, the defendants argued.
That was the basis of the motion for sanctions and other proposed reply memoranda filed in U.S. District Court. The defendants' filings followed Marchman's recent filing with the court of a Louisiana State Police investigative report. That State Police investigative report, which Marchman filed under seal, reportedly contradicts the findings of a state Inspector General investigation that stated there was no sufficient cause to arrest Campbell for payroll fraud or document destruction. State Police and the Inspector General were called on last year to investigate Palowsky's claims that Campbell had committed payroll fraud and concealed or destroyed court documents.
No details from the State Police report have been made public.
Crawford also pleaded with the court Tuesday to forbid any discovery, or the taking of depositions, in Marchman's lawsuit.
“Allowing discovery at this point would sanction a fishing expedition costly to the parties and the resources of this Court,” Crawford's reply memorandum stated. “With regard to Plaintiff's claims against Crawford, there is nothing to discover.”
In Crawford's motion for sanctions, he claimed Marchman and her attorneys have dragged out the litigation in a vexatious manner for the primary purpose of harassment, or to annoy and embarrass the defendants who have been “pilloried in the press.”
Much of Campbell's, Crawford's and Guice's arguments against Marchman's pleadings center on the Marchman's provision of documents from Campbell's confidential personnel file. The defense claims Marchman gave information from Campbell’s personnel file to Palowsky, Banks and Ward. Campbell and Crawford have contended Marchman illegally disclosed those personnel file documents, a claim which Marchman has argued was false since she furnished the documents in response to an August 2015 subpoena in Fourth Judicial District Court.
“Plaintiff Judge Marchman's only beef with Crawford in this suit arises out of statements made in pleadings filed during his representation of Allyson Campbell in Palowsky v. Campbell,” Crawford's motion for sanctions stated. “Specifically, Plaintiff Judge Marchman contends that Crawford (and Campbell) lied when they misrepresented to the Fourth Judicial District Court that Plaintiff Judge Marchman improperly and illegally disclosed Campbell's private employment information.”
Guice's memorandum stated Marchman's defense that she acted as a private citizen when she turned over documents from Campbell's personnel file in response to a subpoena did not hold water. Marchman only had access to Campbell's personnel file because of the special privilege and duties that came with being a publicly elected judge, Guice argued.
Campbell claims the Louisiana Code of Judicial Conduct limits the protected speech of all judges across the state. That would include any response to a subpoena in Fourth Judicial District Court, which was directed to the judges of the district court.
“Plaintiff still, after amending and restating the complaint, cannot provide specific factual allegations of the what, when, how or why of how the allegedly horrific acts could have occurred,” stated Campbell's reply memorandum.
“She also failed to provide specific allegations of the intent, opportunity, plan or motive.”
Crawford and Guice both argued Marchman's claim they conspired with Campbell's other attorneys or with the defendant judges was not based in fact. Both attorneys said they did nothing more than advise their clients and submit pleadings on their behalf.