The sex case over the sentence goes to the Supreme Court Another Tammany | Jobs Recent

The question of whether a sex offender and his parents can sue North Shore District Attorney Warren Montgomery and one of his prosecutors for failing to adequately represent them in court is heading to the state Supreme Court, with the Louisiana District Attorney’s Association debating. next to Montgomery.


North Shore District Attorney Warren Montgomery. Tuesday, November 3, 2020.

This case undermines the rights of victims from the legal protection of district attorneys. The real issue is that prosecutors are covered by absolute immunity during sentencing.

The victim was a 16-year-old high school student working in sales in 2019 when her 23-year-old boss, Jeremy Schake, forced her to perform oral sex, according to court records. He pleaded guilty in 2021 to one count of indecent exposure of a minor.

The young woman and her parents believed, based on an interview with assistant district attorney Iain Dover, that the judge knew they wanted Schake to go to prison for at least a year. So they were shocked last year when 22nd District Judge William “Billy” Burris gave Schake a suspended sentence of 10 years without time in prison.

Montgomery’s office asked Burris to reconsider his sentence. But, in an unusual move, the judge issued a statement that he would not have accepted the plea deal if he had known about the family’s conflict and that he asked Dover to negotiate with the family before sentencing. He also said that it was too late to stop this sentence.

The incidents led to a lawsuit, filed by his parents last March, accusing Dover of misconduct and allegedly lying to the family about his relationship with the judge. The suit also accuses Montgomery of failing to train and supervise his prosecutor.

Immunity protested

Attorneys representing Montgomery’s office have been trying to get the case dismissed, saying the plaintiffs have no legal grounds to file a lawsuit and that Dover and Montgomery were acting as government agents, so they were not protected in court.

But ad hoc judge Franz Zibilich disagreed during a June hearing in 22nd Judicial District Court, siding with the plaintiffs. The DA appealed the case to the First Circuit Court of Appeal, which upheld the lower court’s decision, with one member of the three-member panel dissenting.

Now, attorneys for Dover and Montgomery are appealing to the state Supreme Court, arguing in part that allowing the plaintiffs to prevail would cause irreparable harm to all Louisiana prosecutors.

Preventing lies?

At a hearing in June, Zibilich pointed to allegations that Dover failed to speak to a judge on behalf of the victim, and asked how he was doing as a state representative, according to the records.

He then asked Ralph Alexis III, the DA’s attorney, what he would think if he was not involved in the case. “Can’t you agree that this doesn’t pass your smell test? What happened to him… It stinks,” said Zibilich.

“Well, Joe Citizen can figure that out,” Alexis replied, adding that absolute immunity is essential for the system to work and that DAs must be protected.

Zibilich replied: “Why do we have to keep a lie?”

“Because that’s the plan,” Alexis replied, arguing that allowing prosecutors to file charges if victims don’t like the sentence would cause chaos.

Briefly supporting Montgomery, the Louisiana District Attorneys Association made a similar argument, saying that prosecutors do not represent people who have committed crimes and sometimes must make decisions against their will.

Absolute immunity is needed to ensure that these decisions are made without consideration of recidivism, the organization argued, “even in cases of alleged crimes against the prosecutor.”

Attorney Antonio LeMon, who represents the plaintiffs, said his clients find it upsetting that the Louisiana District Attorney Association has condemned the “bad behavior” by the prosecutor.

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