Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Documents: Sims, attorney had adversarial relationship

Judge Sheva Sims
Shreveport City Court Judge Sheva Sims could be suspended for 90 days without pay if the Louisiana Supreme Court agrees with the findings of the Judiciary Commission of Louisiana.

Sims, who was re-elected to the District D bench Nov. 4, is accused of holding former Assistant City Prosecutor Katherine Gilmer in contempt of court after she refused to meet with Sims in her chambers about an administrative, non-emergency matter.

Sims also is accused of not following proper contempt procedures and dismissing 15 criminal cases — several involving domestic abuse battery, resisting an officer and criminal mischief charges — without taking evidence and having the authority to do so. She also is accused of failing to cooperate with the Office of Special Counsel during the investigation.

Sims, who appeared before commission Sept. 19, could not be reached for comment.

According to the court documents, she disputed holding Gilmer in contempt of court and testified that she did not out-right dismiss the cases, just rescheduled them.

The Judiciary Commission of Louisiana, a constitutional fact-finding body which cannot discipline judges, filed its recommendation with the the Louisiana Supreme Court's Clerk of Court Office Dec. 2. The matter is on the Louisiana Supreme Court's docket for 9:30 a.m. Jan. 29.

Attorney John Settle said he filed the original complaint in May 2012 after reading an article with no byline about dismissal of the cases.

"That kind of action is not explainable, excusable and should not be tolerated," he said. "I'm disappointed that the recommendation was not more severe and I'm hoping that the Supreme Court will take more severe action."

According to court documents obtained from Settle and the Louisiana Supreme Court's Clerk of Court Office, the disciplinary recommendation stems from an April 2012 incident between Gilmer and Sims. The judge was formally charged in Sept. 25, 2013.

The commission alleges Sims engaged in judicial misconduct and failed to uphold the integrity of the office. Gilmer, who now works at the firm Elton B. Richie and Associates, LLC., said she has seen the recommendation but did not wish to comment.

Sims was elected on Nov. 19, 2011, and had been a judge for less than six months at the time of the alleged incident which took place April 24, 2012.

The documents, in which the commission lays out its findings and portions of testimony offered during its investigation, portray Sims and Gilmera as foes whose adversarial relationship continued after Sims became judge.

In its filings the commission alleges Sims describes Gilmer's behavior during one court case as "rude and disrespectful." City Attorney Terri Scott, who also testified in the matter, intervened between the two women following a disagreement about how Sims handled drivers' license forfeitures and other administrative issues.

Scott also did not respond to requests via telephone or email for comment.

According to the filing, Scott communicated to Sims, her assistant prosecutors and other other judges her desires to be included in all meeting requests with her staff and to contact her about administrative issues.

Days before the April 24 incident, the court's judicial administrator emailed Gilmer requesting a meeting on Sims' behalf, according to the documents. Sims testified she asked for that meeting to discuss courtroom proceedings and because Gilmer did not respond to her secretary's earlier attempt to arrange one. She claimed not to be aware of Scott's directive until Scott sent a letter making the request, according to the documents.

Gilmer inquired about the nature of the meeting, copying Scott in the email. Scott again intervened and unsuccessfully attempted to contact Sims, the documents allege.

On April 24, 2012, Gilmer appeared in Sims' court for another legal matter when Sims again attempted to meet with her.

According to the documents, Gilmer called Scott, who allegedly told her not to go, according to the documents. Sims allegedly waited 20 minutes before approaching Gilmer to personally request, several times, a meeting. Gilmer refused and asked if the judge contacted Scott. Sims went to her bench and made the request again.

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Documents: Sims, attorney had adversarial relationship

1 comment:

James said...

Sounds like this judge should be thoroughly investigated.