Fourth Judicial District Court Judge Sharon Marchman says her colleagues at the district court have filed at least 25 ethics complaints against her with the Judiciary Commission, though the complaints were ultimately dismissed.
Marchman made that claim in an Oct. 8 appeal to the state Supreme Court, defending herself against an ethics complaint allegedly submitted with the Judiciary Commission by Second Circuit Court of Appeal Judge Jimbo Stephens, of Baskin.
The Judiciary Commission has charged Marchman with violating the Supreme Court’s ethics code for judges in 2018 when she endorsed then-President Donald Trump by describing herself as a “Trump Republican” and by identifying Stephens as an independent like self-proclaimed socialist U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders. At the time, Marchman was a candidate for the Second Circuit in a race with Stephens, which she lost.
The Judiciary Commission is a judicial oversight branch of the state Supreme Court that has the authority to investigate judges’ misconduct.
In her appeal to the Supreme Court, Marchman objected to an Oct. 5 ruling by retired Judge John Campbell, of Minden. Campbell is presiding over Marchman’s disciplinary case.
Campbell granted a motion by the Judiciary Commission’s Office of Special Counsel to quash subpoenas Marchman issued to set depositions and gain witness testimony ahead of defending herself in a hearing.
Marchman issued 12 subpoenas to Stephens, Fourth Judicial District Court Judges Stephens Winters, Scott Leehy and Wilson Rambo as well as retired judges Ben Jones and Carl Sharp. In addition, she subpoenaed attorneys Jon Guice, Bill Boles Jr., Brian Crawford and Christian Creed. She also subpoenaed Stephens’ political consultant Eric Mahaffey and The (Monroe) News-Star reporter Bonnie Bolden.
Many of the people issued subpoenas, including most of the judges and some of the attorneys, were defendants in a federal lawsuit Marchman filed in 2016, claiming her colleagues had sought to make her a pariah at the courthouse when she tried to hold law clerk Allyson Campbell accountable for alleged criminal activity. A U.S. District Court judge ultimately dismissed Marchman’s lawsuit.
Creed is Allyson Campbell’s brother-in-law while Crawford is Allyson Campbell’s attorney. Marchman’s writ also indicated Creed retained Monroe attorney Michael Creighton as legal counsel.
Louisiana State Police and the state Office of Inspector General investigated Allyson Campbell for public payroll fraud as well as allegations that she concealed or destroyed court documents, including court filings in Monroe businessman Stanley Palowsky III’s lawsuit against his former business partner, Brandon Cork. The state Attorney General deemed the evidence insufficient to secure a lasting conviction.
The claims that Allyson Campbell destroyed documents in Stanley R. Palowsky III and others v. W. Brandon Cork and others remain part of a separate lawsuit Palowsky is pursuing against Allyson Campbell and five judges who serve or previously served at the district court: Fred Amman, Jones, Rambo, Sharp and Winters. Before serving on the bench, Marchman worked as Palowsky’s legal counsel.
In her writ, Marchman claimed Allyson Campbell and the judges filed complaints with the Judiciary Commission against her, with file numbers indicating the complaints were submitted in 2016 and 2018.
“Furthermore, there is also additional history of Campbell filing judiciary complaints against Judge Marchman in File Nos. 16-115, 16-219, and 18-505 wherein she made various allegations including that Judge Marchman was essentially pursuing retribution against her,” stated Marchman’s writ. “All these complaints were closed without any findings against Judge Marchman after the Judiciary Commission conducted its investigation.”
The Judiciary Commission claims its records are confidential, including complaints, and discloses them only under certain circumstances.
Marchman argued the judges who previously filed complaints against her were willing at the time to testify against her and could not now claim their testimony was irrelevant.
“Likewise, Fourth Judicial District Court Judges Carl Sharp, Alvin Sharp, Winters, Leehy, Ellender, Johnson, Rambo, and Amman filed 22 complaints against Judge Marchman in File No. 18-457 claiming, among other things, that Judge Marchman was “(5) Defaming her court and its Judges during two separate election campaigns...” stated Marchman’s writ. “The last page of the [judges’] complaint states that ‘[one] or more of these Judges has knowledge of and is prepared to testify regarding all of these matters.’ This complaint was closed without any findings against Judge Marchman after the Judiciary Commission conducted its investigation.”
According to Marchman’s writ to the Supreme Court last week, Campbell—the hearing officer presiding over the case against Marchman—ruled that the witnesses subpoenaed had no connection to the charges at hand. Winters, Rambo, Leehy, Sharp, Jones, Crawford, Guice, Boles, and Creed “have no connection to the above-captioned matter and, as such, can offer no testimony that is relevant or material to it,” Campbell’s ruling reportedly stated.
“The Order issued by the Hearing Officer prohibiting Judge Marchman from conducting discovery from the designated witnesses will cause her irreparable harm as it prevents her from adequately presenting a defense to the charges made against her,” stated Marchman’s writ. “It erroneously assumes the testimony sought is irrelevant before the witnesses have even provided any testimony.”
Marchman has until Dec. 12 to conduct discovery, including taking depositions from witnesses.
“Given the short time frame to conduct discovery and the resulting prejudice if she is not allowed to conduct discovery, Judge Marchman respectfully requests that this Writ application be considered on an expedited basis,” stated Marchman’s writ.