District judges recuse themselves from DA-v-LCG lawsuit

by Walter Pierce

Keith Stutes filed suit against Lafayette Consolidated Government on May 17 seeking to force LCG to fully fund his office operations.

Photo by Robin May

Judges of the 15th Judicial District — Acadia, Lafayette and Vermilion parishes — have recused themselves from presiding over District Attorney Keith Stutes’ lawsuit against Lafayette Consolidated Government. The mass recusal isn’t hard to understand: Stutes prosecutes cases across the districts, and hearing his suit against LCG could be seen as a conflict of interest and, in the event he is successful, grounds for appealing any judgment against local government. In addition, LCG through the council controls hundreds of thousands of dollars in funding for the parish court operations via the Criminal Court Fund. The local judges, in other words, are in a tough spot with this lawsuit.

Stutes tells The IND that a judge from New Orleans might be assigned the case: “I haven’t gotten any formal notice,” he says, “and I haven’t gotten that confirmed.”

Hearings in the matter have not been scheduled.

Stutes filed suit against LCG on May 17 seeking to force consolidated government to fully fund his office operations. The DA’s predecessor, Mike Harson, had made a habit of reimbursing LCG for some of the cost of assistant prosecutors’ salaries, but soon after taking office in January of 2015 Stutes informed local government that he viewed that practice as illegal and would end the reimbursements.

Read more about it here.