Monroe businessman Stanley Palowsky III and his attorneys want sanctions brought against five Fourth Judicial District Court judges, law clerk Allyson Campbell and the host of attorneys representing the six defendants.
Palowsky and his attorneys, Sedric Banks of Monroe and Joe Ward of Covington, say the district court officials and their attorneys also should be found in contempt of court.
The motion filed Feb. 12 by Palowsky’s attorneys was the latest in a drawn out legal entanglement involving Palowsky and district court officials over allegations that Campbell destroyed or withheld court documents filed by Palowsky in another lawsuit. Palowsky contends district court judges covered up Campbell’s actions.
The move by Palowsky’s attorneys to secure sanctions against the judges, the law clerk and their attorneys was a surprise in light of the defendants’ motions last year seeking sanctions and contempt of court charges against Palowsky and his attorneys.
The defendants’ motions for sanctions and contempt of court against Palowsky and his attorneys form part of the basis for Palowsky’s motions for sanctions and contempt that were filed last week. That would be the case since the defendants and their attorneys falsely accused the plaintiff and Judge Sharon Marchman of “numerous wrongdoings, including but not limited to violating a court order and committing unlawful acts,” Palowsky’s attorneys, Banks and Ward, wrote in their filing seeking sanctions against court officials and their attorneys.
Though the defendants described Palowsky’s allegations against them as “scandalous” and “immaterial” among other descriptions, the defendants did not dispute the factual nature of Palowsky’s allegations, according to Banks and Ward. Banks and Ward say they can prove the allegations made against Campbell and the five defendant judges in their various pleadings.
Banks and Ward claim the defendants’ pleadings contain false accusations and are violations of the Code of Civil Procedure, especially articles 863 and 222(1) and 222(3).
The five defendant judges include Carl Sharp, Stephens Winters, Fred Amman, Wilson Rambo as well as retired Judge Ben Jones, who now serves as the court’s administrator.
Also included in the request for sanctions and contempt are the defendants’ attorneys, including Jon Guice, Linda K. Ewbank, Justin N. Myers, Brian E. Crawford, Lawrence W. Pettiette Jr. and former Attorney General Buddy Caldwell. Caldwell is included because he appointed Pettiette, a Shreveport attorney, to represent Campbell under the controversial claim that district court law clerks are entitled to representation by the Attorney General’s office.
Meanwhile, in an unexpected move, ad hoc Judge Jerome J. Barbera III removed the seal of court records in Stanley R. Palowsky III v. Allyson Campbell and others. Barbera, a retired district court judge from Thibodeaux, had ordered the court record sealed from the public at the end of a Nov. 5 hearing. His order to unseal the case was filed Feb. 10.
Barbera’s handwritten order unsealing the court record was signed in Grapevine, Texas and faxed to the Ouachita Parish Clerk of Court from the Great Wolf Lodge of Grapevine.
In Palowsky’s lawsuit against Campbell, his attorneys accuse Campbell of intentionally destroying or withholding documents critical to Palowsky’s multi-million dollar damage lawsuit against his former business partner, Brandon Cork, and others. It was in the litigating of Stanley R. Palowsky III v. W. Brandon Cork and others that accusations of criminal wrongdoing against Campbell first surfaced. In Palowsky v. Cork, Palowsky claims Cork and others conspired in a fraudulent manner to funnel funds from a company he co-owned, Alternative Environmental Solutions Inc.
Campbell was the only defendant when Palowsky v. Campbell was filed July 22, 2015, but then Banks and Ward added the defendant judges to an amended petition on July 31, 2015, claiming the judges had aided and abetted the law clerk and tried to cover up her wrongdoing.
Barbera has set a March 4 hearing date to consider the sanctions and contempt motions filed by the attorneys representing Campbell and the judges. Though no trial is required on motions for contempt and sanctions, Barbera said Palowsky would be given an opportunity “to be heard orally by way of defense or mitigation.”
Barbera also ordered that his previously ordered stay on discovery would remain in “full force and effect.” Barbera discouraged the presentation of witnesses at the March 4 hearing.
“There is no need for either side in the case to present a parade of witnesses on those allegations to prove or refute the contents of the stories that have provoked so much of the intensity of this case,” Barbera wrote.
In the motion for sanctions against Palowsky and his attorneys, Campbell and the judges state that the allegations against them were for “an improper purpose, to harass the defendants, all of which has increased the scope of the litigation at the expense of the defendants, and that the allegations were and are scandalous and indecent,” according to court documents.
It was during preparation for the March 4 hearing that Palowsky and his attorneys agreed “it became clear that (when) the Defendants and their counsel filed their November 2015 pleadings, they all violated the very sanctions and contempt statutes that they claim Palowsky violated when he filed his original and amended petitions.”
As an example, Banks and Ward questioned Campbell’s claim that her 2012 incident with Monroe attorney Cody Rials involving the possible destruction of court documents was irrelevant to Palowsky’s case. According to court documents, Banks and Ward have stated they believe Rials could testify that Campbell had shredded a judgment submitted to the court because of bias against him.
Banks and Ward also questioned Campbell’s claim that the discovery of 52 writ applications in her office — some allegedly missing for years — while she was serving a one-month suspension was immaterial to Palowsky’s case.
“Nowhere did she argue that these allegations were untrue, nor could she since Palowsky only included allegations in his petitions which could be proven with a document or sworn testimony from competent witnesses,” Banks and Ward wrote. “Notably, this Court has stated that it is not concerned with the truth or falsity of Palowsky’s statements.”
Barbera said the March 4 hearing would be centered on the relevance of allegations, not whether the allegations are true.
Campbell and the five defendant judges requested that Palowsky and his counsel be punished for making “irrelevant criticisms” and “immaterial and scandalous allegations” against them, for actions deserving sanctions for “criticizing and disparaging” their reputations.
“Again, though, nowhere did Defendant Judges ever outright deny the allegations made against them and that is because Palowsky only included allegations of which he had competent evidence,” Banks and Ward wrote.
According to Banks and Ward, the defendant judges and Campbell made “multiple untrue, discourteous and insulting statements about not only against Palowsky and his counsel, but also about current sitting Fourth JDC judge, Honorable Sharon I. Marchman.”
“...In her (Campbell’s) zeal to defend herself…(she) accused Judge Marchman, Palowsky, and his counsel of committing illegal acts,” Banks and Ward wrote.
Banks and Ward challenged Campbell’s claim through her counsel — Crawford, Pettiette and Caldwell — that Palowsky’s opposition to her exceptions constituted “an illegal and improper disclosure of confidential, privileged communications and information of Ms. Campbell and this Court.”
Banks and Ward said the information referred to by Campbell was received legally when Sharp told Marchman to give the material to Palowsky’s attorneys following an Aug. 20, 2015, hearing. Marchman, responding to a subpoena issued by Banks and Ward at that hearing, asked Sharp what she should do with the subpoenaed information at the end of the hearing.
According to the transcript from the hearing, Sharp replied, “Give it to Mr. Ward. Mr. Ward, do with it what you will. All right, we’re adjourned.”
During that hearing, Sharp had quashed subpoenas issued to judges Winters, himself, and Jones. The hearing involved the complete recusal of Fourth Judicial District Court judges which led to Barbera’s appointment by the state Supreme Court to preside over the case. Justice Marcus Clark signed the order to appoint Barbera.
In their conclusion for contempt and sanctions, Banks and Ward wrote, “…there was nothing improper about Judge Marchman’s production of her own personal documents in response to a lawfully-issued subpoena. In fact, Defendant Judge Sharp even ordered her to comply with the subpoena, yet now he and his fellow defendants have called her actions improper, and Campbell has gone so far as to label them ‘illegal.’”