CONVENT, La. – St. James Parish President Timmy Roussel has asked for the
recusal of all judges in the 23rd Judicial District and
District Attorney Ricky Babin after being accused of using public
money and workers for a private job.
Roussel pleaded not guilty in November to six counts of
malfeasance in office after it was alleged that he directed parish
employees, equipment, materials and cash to benefit private companies
According to a report in The
Advocate, the work and cash amounted to more than $70,000, which
covered the tearing down of backyard sheds and installing water lines
for a new company relocating to the parish.
However, the defense attorney for Roussel is asking for the
recusal of all the judges in the 23rd Judicial District
and the district attorney after seizing on his client’s political
fight with the district attorney over funding last year and calling
the impartiality of the entire parish judiciary into question.
A separate Advocate
report detailed how there was a politically motivated dispute between
Babin and Roussel. It was alleged that Babin had appeared before the
St. James Parish Council in May last year asking for a midyear budget
increase of $108,000 while state budget cuts were on the horizon.
It further added that a dispute was going on between Babin’s
office and Roussel over the future of Bruce Mohon as parish attorney.
The report stated that since late last year, Roussel had been asking
Babin to remove Mohon, who has been the St. James’ legal adviser
However, with no movement on that front, Roussel is alleged to
have planned a $36,000 cut to Mohon’s salary, which he is reported
to have said to Mohon on April 25.
Babin subsequently responded by penning an April 28 letter to the
council stating that the planned cut was political payback for the
previous fall’s election. In it, he alleges that Roussel admitted
that the cut was happening because he thought that Mohon supported
Pete Dufresne, a childhood friend who was Roussel’s chief rival in
the fall election.
Roussel denied this was the case. Instead, he states that
it was because he could no longer trust Mohon and that the attorney
had only met once with him during more than four years in office.
After Roussel was arraigned and pleaded not guilty to corruption
charges, his defense attorney stated that as the alleged dispute was
politically motivated, under state law, it was necessary for the
judiciary to recuse itself “to prevent an appearance of impropriety
or bias to the public, according to a Nov. 21 report
by The Advocate.
The defense attorney, Brian Capitelli, also believes that a recuse
is required for the judiciary as, in his view, Roussel controls the
budget concerning the supplemental pay of the judges’ law clerks.
The 23rd Judicial District includes St. James, Ascension
and Assumption parishes.
However, a spokesperson for the district attorney is reported as
refuting any political motivations, stating Babin’s office no part
in the prosecution and therefore does not need to recuse itself.