The trench warfare between the 16th Judicial District Attorney’s Office and 16th Judicial District Court Judge Lori Landry continued Thursday as prosecutors met each case coming before Landry on the criminal docket with a motion to recuse the judge.
So far the DA’s office has issued 75 motions that have been signed and alloted for hearings across the 16th JDC to recuse Landry from any criminal prosecution because, according to the motion, Landry was “biased or prejudiced against (the 16th JDC District Attorney’s) office such that she cannot be fair or impartial.”
Another 30 to 40 motions are still waiting to be issued as other criminal cases come up before Landry.
On Thursday morning, District Attorney Bo Duhé was present in the courtroom as the session began. After several cases had been called and motions for recusal were entered, he left the court.
One defense attorney, Michael Moity of New Iberia, was in court to represent a client at trial Thursday morning. He asked what would happen to his client’s case after the recusal motion was entered.
“You cannot set another trial date?” Moity asked.
“When a motion to recuse a judge has been entered, I do not have any power to act on the case,” Landry said.
Duhé said later Thursday that maintaining the flow of cases through the district was a concern. He also said that several ideas are being discussed to handle the 100-plus motion hearings that his office’s effort — to have Landry removed from any cases involving his office (essentially all criminal cases in the three-parish 16th JDC) — has generated.
Landry, one of eight judges in the district, said the continued pressure to remove her from hearing criminal cases is an attempt to remove her from the bench.
“This is an attempt to unseat me and overturn the vote of the people,” Landry said.
The first motion to recuse Landry was filed on Sept. 17 in the case of Kerry Stokes, who is facing trial for attempted second-degree murder and other associated charges. That motion is set for a hearing on Oct. 11.
The 27-page document describes 36 separate incidents in which the district attorney claims 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 toward 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.
In court Thursday, Landry read through the entire motion, citing each specific case in which the DA’s office claimed she had exhibited bias.
“I don’t believe it makes reference to any of your cases,” she told the gallery as she began. She skimmed through the text, stopping at each defendant named in the motion.
“Is this name on our docket?” she asked occasionally.
“No, judge,” the clerk replied each time.
As she read the document, Landry occasionally expressed sarcasm.
“On occasion, they say I even raised my voice,” Landry said, raising her eyebrows dramatically.