Challenge to 1st Circuit Appeal Court candidacy put on hold

AMITE - Attorneys in a lawsuit challenging Jerry Denton's candidacy for the state 1st Circuit Court of Appeal have been put on standby, while the judge who will hear the case conducts jury selection for an unrelated criminal trial.

The suit, which alleges Denton failed to disclose more than $261,000 in federal tax liens, was scheduled for a hearing Tuesday morning before an ad hoc judge on the candidate's motion to have the 21st Judicial District judges recused or to change venue.

Denton's opponent in the appellate court race is 21st Judicial District Judge Ernest G. "Ernie" Drake Jr.

While ad hoc Judge Jerome Winsberg was stuck in traffic traveling from New Orleans to Amite on Tuesday morning, Denton's attorney, Brian Abels, withdrew the motion to recuse.

Abels said Denton has no objection to having 21st Judicial District Judge Elizabeth Wolfe, to whom the case was assigned, decide the matter.

However, Wolfe is scheduled to preside over an unrelated criminal trial this week. Jury selection began Tuesday morning.

Wolfe said she could hear arguments in the candidacy suit sometime this week, as time allows, but that would require putting the attorneys on "standby" awaiting an opening in her schedule.

Both Abels and Ron Macaluso, attorney for plaintiff Charles "Boo" Christmas, said they had no objection to being placed on standby.