- Associated Press - Saturday, April 9, 2016

LAFAYETTE, La. (AP) - Louisiana’s inability to pay its public defenders could claim a new victim - the Lafayette judge presiding in the case of a teen accused of killing a flea market employee.

Defense lawyers for the teen filed a motion Friday, the Advocate reports (https://bit.ly/1Ylgf7c) to throw District Judge Patrick Michot off the murder case. The teen is accused of shooting Jockey Lot flea market employee Michael Patin in February 2014.

The boy’s attorneys G. Paul Marx and Jane Hogan, claim Michot’s meeting with Assistant District Attorney Michele Billeaud on Thursday amounted to improper ex parte communication - improper dialogue with a judge that leaves out one side in a pending court matter.

The motion to recuse Michot was filed Friday and written by Hogan, a former attorney with the 15th Judicial District Public Defenders Office that is headed by Marx. Hogan remains on Joseph’s legal team even though she’s not getting paid.

The motion to recuse says Thomas Rimmer, a public defender, was at that meeting. But the motion says Rimmer knows nothing about the case and isn’t representing the teen.

“The notion that the mere presence of any defense attorney remedies the improper communication is unacceptable,” Hogan wrote and added that no attempt was made to contact her or Marx.

“Judge Michot has acted in a manner that undermines the neutrality of the judiciary,” Hogan wrote.

Judge Thomas Duplantier on Friday was assigned to preside over the request to recuse Michot. No date for a hearing has been set.

Earlier this year, Marx laid off or accepted the resignations of more than half of his staff and canceled the contracts of all of his seasoned criminal defense attorneys.

Lawmakers will provide some funds statewide come July 1. And some of the contracted criminal defense lawyers in the district including Lafayette have returned to work after district judges allotted money through June to pay for defending certain cases.

But Lafayette remains one of Louisiana’s jurisdictions with many defendants facing charges but with no state-paid lawyer available to defend them, as is constitutionally required.

A clearly perturbed Judge Michot on Thursday, before the alleged meeting with Billeaud, tried to deal with a courtroom full of defendants.

“Is there anybody here willing to take his case?” Michot said in a call to all attorneys in the packed courtroom.

It was a question Michot repeated in the hours-long docket hearing, including for 22-year-old Joseph Paul Miller Jr., who is charged with carnal knowledge of a juvenile. There were no takers for that case. “Mr. Miller, I can’t find you a lawyer. You’re going to have to be reset,” Michot said.


Information from: The Advocate, https://theadvocate.com

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