Judge to remain on St. Francisville property dispute case

A state district judge denied the West Feliciana Parish Police Jury’s motion Wednesday to remove Judge George H. Ware Jr. from a lawsuit over ownership of property near the old Mississippi River ferry landing.

The jury is disputing the ownership claims of Lambert Gravel Co. and heirs of the late Paul A. Lambert Sr., among them jury President Ricky Lambert.

The jury argued that another judge should preside over the case because Ware, in the late 1980s, gave the jury legal advice on securing a lease from the Lamberts for a boat landing site adjacent to the ferry landing.

Ware was district attorney for the Feliciana parishes at the time.

District Judge William G. Carmichael ruled, however, that the jury had produced no evidence that Ware had advised the jury on any issue currently before the court.

The minutes of a Jan. 11, 1988, jury meeting say Ware advised the jury to get a permanent servitude from the Lamberts for the public to use the landing site, which the town of St. Francisville and jury wanted for docking touring riverboats.

Ware testified, however, he has no preconceived idea that the Lamberts own the land but was responding to the jury’s request for advice on how to secure landing rights at the river.

“I couldn’t tell you whether they owned the property or not. I did not self-generate the task for myself,” Ware said, adding he never did a title search for the jury that involved the property the Lamberts claim.

Richard McConnell, the Lamberts’ attorney, argued Ware’s advice to the jury was not grounds for his recusal in the type of lawsuit his clients filed because he had not advised jurors in the preceding year.

The Lamberts claim the jury “disturbed” their ownership of the property by removing concrete barricades blocking access to the land bordering the old ferry landing.