Supreme Court recuses judge from Daigle trial

Louisiana Supreme Courthttps://commons.wikimedia.org/

The state Supreme Court, in a decision handed down Monday, removed Judge Guy Bradberry from overseeing the upcoming trial of Kevin Daigle. 

Daigle is charged with first-degree murder in the shooting of Steven Vincent, a Louisiana state trooper, in 2015. The trial had been scheduled to begin this week.

In granting a recusal motion by Daigle’s defense team, the decision also inevitably set back the trial because the ruling means a new judge will be appointed and court dates will have to be set for additional defense motions that are pending. 

It’s expected that a new judge will be appointed to the Daigle case this week, possibly as early as today. 

On Friday, the state Supreme Court issued a stay in the trial, which put everything on hold at that time until further notice just as jury selection was set to begin this week in Bossier Parish. 

The 3rd Circuit Court of Appeal earlier ruled that Bradberry would not be recused and would continue to oversee the trial when it did begin but Monday’s decision trumped the 3rd Circuit’s ruling. 

In its decision, the state Supreme Court cited another case, Rippo v. Baker, and said the probability of actual bias on the part of the judge or decision-maker is too high to be “constitutionally tolerable.” 

Its decision regarding Bradberry said, in part, “Recusal may be required as a constitutional safeguard against the risk of bias and, because the defendant here faces the possibility of a death sentence, every reasonable effort must be made to ensure constitutional safeguards are met.” 

Continuing, the decision said, “The record here demonstrates that the trial judge had a longtime working relationship with Mrs. Vincent, the victim’s widow and a court employee; has a social media relationship with Mrs. Vincent that he initially denied in a formal opinion, but later admitted under oath; and has taken steps barred by the Code of Criminal Procedure which, if not corrected by the appellate court, would have thwarted another judge from considering his recusal. Mrs. Vincent is not only the victim’s widow, she is designated as a penalty phase witness in this capital case.” 

The state Supreme Court added that there has “been no allegation or showing that the trial judge (Bradberry) harbors any actual bias or that he is not a diligent district court judge.” 

Daigle’s defense team also filed a motion last week asking for a change of venue from Bossier City because of “Operation D-57,” a drug roundup of 180 people by law enforcement earlier this month in the areas of Central and Northwest Louisiana. The name of the roundup was in honor of Vincent, with “Operation D-57” referencing his unit number with Louisiana State Police. 

A news release sent out about the roundup by Louisiana State Police said, in part, “Trooper Vincent’s son requested we would ‘find a lot of drugs’ if we used his father’s LSP unit number as the operation title, and that’s exactly what resulted.” 

Daigle’s defense attorneys have several other motions pending, including the change of venue motion, which had also been scheduled to be heard just before jury selection began but none of those motions have been heard.

It is still planned for jury selection to take place at a future date in Benton in Bossier Parish. Once a jury is selected, jurors will be brought here for trial. 

The trial is expected to be held in Courtroom A in the old Calcasieu Courthouse to provide more seating. 

If found guilty, Daigle would face the death penalty. 

Business

Aypa Power plans $440M solar farm in rural section of Jeff Davis, Calcasieu parishes

Jim Beam

Jim Beam column: Elections major session issue

Local News

Israel bombs UN-run school in Gaza, a day after strike on school killed 33

Crime

Hunter Biden’s daughter Naomi testifies about her father

Local News

PHOTO GALLERY: Calcasieu Kennel Club Dog Show

Local News

Police Jury considering I-10 beautification project

Crime

6/7: Calcasieu Parish Sheriff announces arrest list

life

New restaurant summer kick-off event to feature music, games

life

Coushatta Pow Wow: Annual Kinder event offers chance to experience Native American culture

life

Lake Charles Community Band concert to present tribute to Grammy winners

Local News

Port Wonder Progress: Target date for opening is mid-September

life

Fort Johnson security guard helps save neighbor’s home

Business

‘Streamlined, flexible, transparent’ ITEP process is in the works

Crime

Widow of Beau Biden tells jurors in Hunter Biden’s gun trial that she threw firearm in a trash can

McNeese Sports

Wade talks about roster

Local News

Bicyclist fatally struck near Broad Street

life

Area property owners encouraged to submit storm damage online

Local News

Only way to go is up: Kennedy says Cowgirls headed in right direction

Crime

6/6: Calcasieu Parish Sheriff announces arrest list

Jim Gazzolo

Jim Gazzolo column: SFA will find new Southland

life

‘Special Assessment Freeze’ available for seniors, disabled veterans, citizens

McNeese Sports

Summer brings hope for Cowboys

Local News

McNeese online nursing program ranked in top 5 for affordability

Local News

Return to Normandy: 60 American veterans to be feted in France as part of 80th anniversary of D-Day