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Retired B.R. judge to oversee Cantrell credit-card probe

5th February 2018   ·   0 Comments

Freddie Pitcher Jr. a retired Baton Rouge judge and former Southern University Law Center chancellor, has been tapped by the Louisiana Supreme Court to oversee the politically charged case involving the financial records of New Orleans Mayor-elect LaToya Cantrell.

Pitcher will be tasked with determining whether Orleans Parish Judge Laurie White or any of the other judges from the Orleans Parish Criminal Court can decide whether subpoenas can be served to force Cantrell to turn over her personal financial records.

State Attorney General Jeff Landry is seeking Cantrell’s financial records in the wake of an anonymous complaint filed during last fall’s New Orleans mayoral runoff after it was learned that Cantrell used a city-issued credit card for expenses and later paid the money back using her personal and campaign accounts.



Landry has sought to get the Orleans Parish judges to recuse themselves from the probe because the City of New Orleans determines the Criminal Court’s budget and Cantrell’s father-in-law, Harry Cantrell, is New Orleans’ magistrate judge.

Judge Laurie White ruled in December that the case should remain in her court, prompting Landry to challenge that ruling in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal.

White’s ruling was upheld by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal and the state supreme court decided on Jan. 25 that an ad hoc judge should decide whether a recusal is in order.

Landry has been fighting to have all of the Orleans Criminal Court judges recuse themselves as he digs into Cantrell’s use of the credit card.

“From what my attorney has advised me, this is a procedural matter that has nothing to do with the merits of the case. I am sure that a fair and impartial judge will be appointed ad hoc. Meanwhile, I remain focused on the transition and the great work ahead for our city and my incoming administration,” Cantrell said in a statement.

Landry has pointed out in the past that six criminal court judges refused to sign a subpoena to have Cantrell turn over records to the AG’s Office. Five of those cited a conflict of interest.

“We will continue to oppose the Attorney General’s efforts to disqualify Judge Laurie White and the rest of the Orleans Parish Criminal District Court. We are confident that an ad hoc judge will agree that Judge White can fairly preside over this matter,” attorney Billy Gibbens said in a statement on behalf of Cantrell.

Public records obtained by FOX 8 showed purchases on her city-issued credit card including drinks, turkeys and even feminine products.

In 1987 Freddie Pitcher Jr. became the first African American elected to a parish-wide judgeship in East Baton Rouge. After serving on the 19th Judicial District Court and First Circuit Court of Appeal, he served from 2002 to 2015 as chancellor of the Southern University Law Center.

This article originally published in the February 5, 2018 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.

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