The state's Office of Inspector General will remain in the lead in an investigation of the Fourth Judicial District Court, according to Fourth Judicial District Attorney Jerry Jones.
Jones informed The Ouachita Citizen of the development on Tuesday after telling the newspaper the day before that Louisiana State Police investigators would take point on the probe into the district court. On Monday, Jones had said the IG would assist State Police but that changed on Tuesday.
Jones would not comment other than to say the Inspector General was the primary investigator of the issues involving the district court.
“I will not comment on an investigation,” Jones said.
Inspector General Stephen B. Street Jr. said it was the policy of his office not to comment on pending or ongoing investigations.
Two weeks ago, Street said one of his investigators, Heath Humble, would be working not only with Jones but other agencies in northern Louisiana to fight public corruption. Humble is relocating to northern Louisiana, according to Street.
Meanwhile, Ben Jones, retired Fourth Judicial District Court judge and current district court administrator, previously told The Ouachita Citizen that the district court would cooperate in any investigation into accusations outlined in a criminal complaint this newspaper submitted to the district attorney's office earlier this year. The Ouachita Citizen requested the district attorney’s office initiate a probe into allegations that court documents had been destroyed as well as this issue surrounding possible payroll discrepancies among district court employees.
Accusations that Allyson Campbell, a law clerk for Fourth Judicial District Court Judge Wilson Rambo, had destroyed or intentionally withheld documents filed with the court originally surfaced a motion to recuse Rambo from presiding over a civil lawsuit. That recusal motion was filed last year by Covington attorney Joe Ward on behalf of plaintiff Stanley R. Palowsky III in the matter of Stanley R. Palowsky III vs. Brandon W. Cork and others.
“Information surfaced of Judge Rambo’s law clerk withholding and shredding court documents and causing delays in the present litigation,” wrote Ward in his motion to recuse Rambo. “Still, other information surfaced about Judge Rambo’s law clerk delaying scores of writ applications and had, actually, used such court records as an end table in her office.”
Ward's recusal motion also accused Rambo of exhibiting bias against Ward’s client and fellow plaintiff's attorney, Sedric Banks of Monroe.
Rambo ultimately recused himself from the Palowsky case, but he denied he had exhibited any bias against Palowsky or Palowsky’s attorneys.
Jones, the court administrator, told The Ouachita Citizen he would not comment on any accusations, including Ward's allegations regarding Campbell.
The Ouachita Citizen submitted its criminal complaint to the district attorney’s office in March after the district court refused to release some public documents contained in Campbell's personnel file. Fourth Judicial District Court Judge Stephens Winters, on behalf of the district court, released some information to the newspaper that showed Campbell was not paid during the month of May 2014. However, the district court refused to provide a reason why she was not paid during that month.
The district court filed a lawsuit against The Ouachita Citizen requesting that an ad hoc judge decide if the documents requested by the newspaper were public information. Retired Judge Ann Simon of New Iberia ruled in favor of the district court in June, stating that Campbell’s privacy rights outweighed the public’s right to know.