Prosecutors argue judge should remain
Acting U.S. Attorney Walt Green’s wife, a law clerk for U.S. District Judge Shelly Dick, has never worked on any case involving the federal prosecutor’s office, two prosecutors disclosed Thursday in asking that the judge not recuse herself from presiding over a Mandeville businessman’s fraud case.
“The law makes it clear that, when a law clerk has a conflict, the clerk should be disqualified from the case, not the judge. That is exactly what happened here,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Rene Salomon and Department of Justice attorney Jackie Ben Patrick wrote in urging Dick to reject Raymond Reggie’s recusal motion filed April 18.
“The law clerk married to the United States Attorney has always been disqualified from … this or any other criminal or civil case involving the United States Attorney’s Office. This is well-known by the Federal Public Defender’s Office and other members of the federal criminal bar in this district,” Salomon and Patrick stated.
Katherine Green, who is Walt Green’s wife and Dick’s civil law clerk, “has been ‘walled off’ and insulated from participation” in the Reggie wire fraud case, they added.
Metairie attorney David Courcelle, who represents Reggie, declined comment on the government’s opposition to Reggie’s recusal motion.
Courcelle argued in Reggie’s motion that Dick, of Baton Rouge, must have had “something to hide” by not disclosing to the defense that Green’s wife is one of the judge’s law clerks.
Courcelle said in the motion that Dick refused April 14 to voluntarily recuse herself from the case, prompting the filing of the motion.
The motion acknowledged that Dick told Courcelle on April 14 that Katherine Green is recused from taking part in any cases involving the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Dick took office in May, Katherine Green began working for her in June, and Walt Green was named acting U.S. attorney on July 1. He has been at the U.S. Attorney’s Office since 2000.
Reggie’s case is on hold until the recusal issue is resolved. He intends to take the matter to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans if Dick denies his motion.
Reggie’s motion called Dick’s impartiality into question.
“In a criminal prosecution, the stakes are extremely high. The only person that stands between the U.S. Attorney and (Reggie) is the Judge,” Courcelle wrote.
Reggie — son of the late Crowley City Judge Edmund Reggie and a former brother-in-law of the late U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy — was indicted by a Baton Rouge federal grand jury in August.
Courcelle claimed in the recusal motion that, during pre-indictment talks regarding a particular defense theory, the prosecutor assigned to the case told Reggie and Courcelle that they would not get certain defenses into evidence, depending on which judge the case was allotted to.
“Upon learning of the fact that Mrs. Green works for Judge Dick, (Reggie) immediately recalled the above conversation and believes that the reference by the (prosecutor) was that if Judge Dick was allotted this case, (Reggie) would not get his defenses into evidence,” Courcelle wrote.
Salomon and Patrick called that argument frivolous.
Reggie is accused of stealing more than $1.1 million from Supreme Automotive Group, of Slidell, while acting as a media consultant for the group of car dealerships.
Courcelle has argued in court that Supreme’s top brass was aware of the payments made to Reggie.
Reggie’s indictment alleges he essentially gave himself a $1.1 million raise by billing the dealerships for advertising that was never purchased.
Supreme’s members have dealerships in Gonzales, Plaquemine and other locations in southeast Louisiana.