New Judge Assigned in Landrieu Residency Case After Recusal
A source at the Clerk of Courts in Louisiana's 19th Judicial District told Breitbart News on Wednesday that Judge Todd Hernandez, the judge originally assigned to preside over the lawsuit objecting to Senator Mary Landrieu's (D-LA) candidacy on Friday, Paul Hollis versus Mary L. Landrieu and Tom Schedler, Louisiana Secretary of State, has recused himself from the case. According to the source, the case is in the process of being reassigned to Judge Wilson Fields.
In an exclusive interview with Breitbart News the plaintiff in the case, State Representative Paul Hollis, confirmed that it was his understanding as well that Judge Hernandez had recused himself and Judge Fields has been assigned the case.
Hollis told Breitbart News that he understands Hernandez had recused himself because, like Senator Landrieu, he is up for re-election on the November 4, 2014 ballot, and, given that status, believes it would be inappropriate for him to preside over the lawsuit challenging her qualifications as a candidate.
The Advocate reported on Wednesday that "State District Judge Wilson Fields has scheduled a hearing [on Hollis's suit] Friday morning."
Judge Fields has recently been in the news for his decision last month to allow controversial Juvenile Court Judge Yolanda King to remain on the ballot this fall in New Orleans. Mayor Mitch Landrieu of New Orleans had asked that Judge King be removed from the ballot, on the grounds that she was under felony indictment for falsifying her address. Landrieu's motion was opposed by Secretary of State Tom Schedler and the New Orleans Clerk of Court.
"Civil Court Judge Wilson Fields ruled that the protocol for declaring the judge's seat 'vacant' was not followed in King's case," WWL TV reported.
Judge Fields is the brother of controversial former Congressman Cleo Fields (D-LA), who was caught on video by the FBI in 1997 accepting an estimated $25,000 in cash from disgraced former Louisiana Governor Edwin Edwards. The video surfaced at Governor Edward's 2000 trial for corruption.
Government prosecutors contended at the time "the payoff to Fields - believed to be $25,000 - is part of the $400,000 in cash that DeBartolo paid Edwards on March 12 in San Francisco, allegedly for greasing the skids with the Louisiana Gaming Board for DeBartolo to win the state's 15th and last riverboat casino license."
When the video was made public, Cleo Fields "told Baton Rouge TV stations he did nothing wrong, because he was a private citizen when he received the money."
Edwards was convicted of corruption in the case, but Cleo Fields was never charged with a crime related to his acceptance of the cash.
Cleo Fields was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1992, and served two terms there. In 1995 he lost his race for governor in a bitterly contested election. Though Fields finished in second place with 19% of the vote in the primary, he lost the runoff election in a landslide. Senator Landrieu placed third in the primary with 18% of the vote and failed to qualify for the two person runoff. In 1996 Landrieu ran for the U.S. Senate and won the seat she seeks to retain in this November's election.
Cleo Fields was later elected to the Louisiana State Senate, where he served until 2008, when he was term limited out. He currently practices law in Louisiana, and is credited as the person who coined the original version of this memorable phrase from the 2008 Obama campaign: "Rosa Parks sat, so that Martin Luther King could walk, Martin Luther King walked so that Obama could run, Obama ran so that we all can fly."