In a pleading filed Monday in U.S. District Court, Fourth Judicial District Court Judge Sharon Marchman doubled down on her arguments that her constitutional rights were violated in her pursuit to expose wrongdoing among district court officials.
In opposing motions to dismiss her lawsuit, Marchman also filed a Louisiana State Police report on its investigation of payroll fraud and document destruction at the district court. That investigative report is distinct from a letter state Inspector General Stephen Street sent Fourth Judicial District Attorney Jerry Jones in April, in which Street said there was no “sufficient cause” to arrest law clerk Allyson Campbell over allegations she committed payroll fraud or destroyed court records.
The State Police report and four additional unknown attachments were filed under seal by Marchman and transferred to U.S. District Court Judge Maurice Hicks, who is presiding over Marchman’s lawsuit.
Marchman’s lawsuit centers on her claims that defendants retaliated against her in numerous ways when she tried to uncover the alleged criminal activity committed by Campbell. A number of Fourth Judicial District Court judges, their attorneys and Campbell’s attorneys as well as former Attorney General Buddy Caldwell also are accused of conspiring to cover for Campbell and for retaliating against Marchman.
“Because Judge Marchman alleged that her reputation has been harmed, that her standing in the community has been harmed, that she has become a pariah at the courthouse, and that all the defendants are attempting to interfere with her ability to do her job as a duly-elected judge by accusing her of wrongful acts, threatening her, and trying to intimidate her, then she has certainly alleged an injury sufficient to pass Rule 12(b)(6) muster,” stated Marchman’s memorandum in opposition to motions to dismiss.
As of Tuesday, Marchman’s lengthy memorandum — along with the State Police report — awaited Hicks’ approval to be officially entered into the court record. Marchman’s memorandum was filed in response to motions to dismiss submitted by Campbell, her attorney Brian Crawford of Monroe, and by Jon Guice, a Monroe attorney who represents the district court. Guice also represents some of the defendant judges — Fred Amman, Wilson Rambo, Carl Sharp and retired Judge Ben Jones, who now is the court administrator — in related litigation being pursued by Monroe businessman Stanley Palowsky III against Campbell and the defendant judges — Stanley R. Palowsky III v. Allyson Campbell and others. That case currently is on appeal before the Second Circuit Court of Appeal in Shreveport.
In her lawsuit in U.S. District Court, Marchman took issue with how she was allegedly singled out by defendants as the only female jurist at Fourth Judicial District Court. Her gender led to claims by the defendants that she was simply involved in a “cat fight” with Campbell or was pursuing a personal vendetta against another woman.
“She has alleged that this situation with Defendant Campbell has been referred to as a ‘cat fight’ and that she has been subjected to threats, intimidation, and even intentional physical contact,” stated Marchman’s memorandum. “Judge Marchman submits that if she were a male, there would be no accusations of a ‘cat fight,’ nor would Defendants be subjecting her to the treatment described in her Amended Complaint.”
Marchman argued Guice, Crawford and Campbell made light of her claims in their separate motions to dismiss her lawsuit and “tried to trivialize Judge Marchman’s allegations against them.”
Marchman argued the four defendant judges described her claims as an “internal state-court personnel matter” involving Campbell and other judges, a description at odds with the defendant judges’ insistence that their handling of Campbell’s alleged payroll fraud and document destruction was a judicial act, not an administrative act over personnel matters. Claiming they acted in a judicial role, not an administrative one, forms the basis of the judges’ defense in both the Marchman case and in Palowsky v. Campbell in Fourth Judicial District Court.
Marchman took aim at Crawford’s memorandum in support of his motion to dismiss, claiming the Monroe attorney’s “version of the ‘background’ leading to his lawsuit is inaccurate and is further evidence of his personal attack on Judge Marchman.”
Marchman said Crawford went too far, again, in claiming Marchman violated a judge’s order by furnishing Palowsky with confidential documents from Campbell’s personnel file. Marchman argued she provided Palowsky with those documents at the instructions of Sharp, during an August 2015 hearing in district court in which the judge ordered Marchman to “give them to the litigants,” in response to a subpoena.
“In fact, in Crawford’s motion to dismiss, he brazenly repeats his assertion that Judge Marchman illegally disclosed Campbell’s personnel records, and he even accuses her of having unclean hands,” stated Marchman’s memorandum.
Marchman knocked Crawford and Campbell for claiming the Inspector General’s (IG) letter “officially cleared (Campbell) of wrongdoing.”
“...the IG’s letter does not proclaim that Campbell has been ‘officially cleared of wrongdoing,’ nor does it conclude that she did not destroy documents or commit payroll fraud,” stated Marchman’s memorandum. “The letter merely states that ‘the available facts do not provide sufficient cause’ for Campbell’s arrest, so the IG is closing its file.”
Marchman notes, as reported in The Ouachita Citizen, that Jones, the district attorney, claimed State Police investigators had compiled an investigative report that contradicted the findings in the Inspector General’s letter. However, that State Police report could not be produced in response to The Ouachita Citizen’s public records requests to several state entities because Jones had classified the investigation as ongoing. The investigation had been forwarded to the state Attorney General’s office for “consideration of potential criminal prosecution.”
An ongoing investigation means Campbell has not been cleared of wrongdoing, Marchman argued.
In support of her rebuttal of Campbell’s and Crawford’s motions to dismiss, Marchman filed a copy of The Ouachita Citizen’s news report, “DA’s actions cripple court probe,” which detailed Jones’ contradictory account of communications with investigators, his filing of misleading court documents and his decision to keep from investigators a copy of The Ouachita Citizen’s criminal complaint against the court.
“Judge Marchman is submitting the LSP’s report to show this Court that Crawford is intentionally misleading it by filing the IG’s letter alone, by telling this Court that Campbell has been ‘officially cleared of wrongdoing,’ and by concealing the fact that Campbell is still being investigated,” stated Marchman’s memorandum.