Shreveport attorney John Settle Jr. has come under fire after a recent ruling by ad hoc Judge Edward Bleich and is accused of using the court system for political and publicity means.
Bleich reprimanded Settle in the Oct. 2 ruling for requesting an expedited hearing on a matter the state court is not authorized to hear. In his ruling, Bleich accused Settle of requesting the hearing for frivolous reasons in order to obtain publicity against district attorney candidate Judge James Stewart.
In addition to his rebuke of Settle’s actions, Bleich ruled that the attorney must enroll in Continued Legal Education (CLE), complete 10 hours of training in each category, obtain certification of training, submit the certification to court, and pay all costs of the proceeding.
Settle declined to comment until the final judgment is signed.
“When it is, I will consider my options, including a potential appeal of the attorney’s fees, and the requirements of the CLE,” Settle told the Louisiana Record.
Settle initially filed the lawsuit to request a judge to determine if Stewart could campaign while still serving on the bench. Stewart disputed the lawsuit, filing a motion to sanction Settle. Bleich granted this motion in the ruling.
“Unfortunately, in this case, the court system is being used to attack a candidate,” Bleich wrote. “Courts should be available to the public to address true problems and issues of disputes. There are many methods by which politicians and their surrogates can levy criticisms against opponents. The court system should be reserved for more important matters.”
Bleich took issue with Settle’s actions immediately following the filing of his original petition. He contacted newspapers, media, and the local bar association to spread news of the suit.
Additionally, Settle is accused of intentionally disregarding the court’s lack of jurisdiction. He filed a similar lawsuit against Shreveport City Court Judge Sheva Sims last year, and it was dismissed for the same reason.
“He cannot claim he was unaware of the implications of filing this type of action that he lost in court before,” Bleich wrote.
Loyola law professor and commentator Dane Ciolino doesn’t expect the ruling to be the end of the measures taken to counteract Settle’s actions.
“I would expect the office of disciplinary counsel to evaluate whether additional disciplinary sanctions – and perhaps sanctions more onerous than reprimand – are appropriate in light of his persistent filing of frivolous lawsuits, “ said Ciolino.