A panel of the Third Circuit Court of Appeal in Lake Charles has reversed 16th Judicial District Court Judge Lori Landry’s denial of several motions District Attorney Bo Duhé filed recusing her from hearing criminal cases in the 16th JDC.
In its decision, the three-judge panel unanimously agreed with the points made in the District Attorney’s 100-page writ application. According to the court, Landry should not have denied the motions herself and that they should be brought before another judge for a hearing.
That hearing will likely begin on Monday, when retired Ninth Judicial District Court Judge Harry F. Randow will sit as an ad hoc judge to the 16th JDC to hear the hundreds of motions filed against Landry.
The motion filed against Landry beginning on Sept. 17 claim that she “is biased or prejudiced against (the 16th JDC District Attorney’s) office such that she cannot be fair or impartial.”
According to state law, a recusal order against a judge must be referred to another judge for a hearing unless it does not have any specific factual basis. Landry denied several motions because they were not specific to the defendants in the cases, but the Third Circuit judges agreed with the 16th JDC District Attorney that the factual basis of bias against the prosecutors in those cases was factually documented.
The Louisiana Code of Judicial Conduct states that “a judge should disqualify himself or herself in a proceeding in which the judge’s impartiality might reasonably be questioned.” The 27-page motion from the District Attorney’s Office describes 36 separate incidents claiming Landry:
• Said prosecutors from the district attorney’s office incarcerated African-Americans more severely and at a higher rate than others, have improper motivations and engaged in “trickery.”
• Engaged in abusive, inappropriate and bullying behavior towards the prosecutors and staff,
• Threatened to stab an assistant district attorney in the ear with an ink pen,
• Physically intimidated an assistant district attorney for a perceived slight,
• Blamed a victim’s family for “allowing” their children to be victimized,
• Repeatedly engaged in in-court behavior calculated to humiliate prosecutors, and
• Refused to fairly and impartially apply the law.
Many of the comments cited in the motion describe Landry claiming the District Attorney’s Office “knew or should have known” of irregularities in the Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office prior to the federal convictions of nine officers in 2016.
“It doesn’t take a rocket scientist,” Landry said, according to the motion.
Landry has denied any bias on her part. She has also called the motion “frivolous and without merit."
Randow is a life-long resident of Rapides Parish, having grown up in Pineville. Prior to becoming a judge in 1996, he practiced law for 28 years here in Rapides Parish.
During his tenure on the bench in Rapides, Randow presided over all types of cases including civil, criminal and juvenile matters. In addition, he presided over the Adult Drug Court Program for 10 years.
Randow was inducted into the Louisiana Justice Hall of Fame in 2013. Also in 2013, he was awarded the President’s Award by the Louisiana State Bar Association.
He has also served as president of the Louisiana District Judges Association, chair of the Louisiana Supreme Court Self-Represented Litigants Task Force and served on the Board of Governors for the Louisiana Judicial College.