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BENTON, LA (KTBS) — Shreveport lawyer and Caddo Parish district attorney candidate Patricia Gilley, who was briefly jailed for contempt of court last week after accusing a Bossier Parish judge of lying about the sentence he would impose in a manslaughter case, refused to recant her allegations when she appeared before another judge in a contempt hearing.
In a motion asking to have her client’s sentence reconsidered, Gilley accused Bossier District Judge Parker Self of reneging on a promised lesser sentence and also accused prosecutors of witness intimidation. All denied wrongdoing and Gilley put on no witnesses during the contempt hearing to support the allegations.
In finding her in contempt of court, Judge Mike Craig said Gilley went too far.
“You are a very, very strong advocate for your client, and in some respects I think that may be one of your weaknesses,” Craig told Gilley, “because I’m not sure you know where that line is of what line to cross and not to cross. You’re held to a higher standard as a professional to be a wordsmith, to be able to get your point across without being discourteous, without being unprofessional, without being abusive in the way that you make your argument.”
Gilley had refused to back down on her accusations. She alleged Self promised a certain sentence during a meeting in an anteroom before court went into session. Self “vehemently” denied it, according to a transcript of the contempt hearing.
“I will not recant a single word that I put into that motion. It is the truth,” Gilley told Craig. “Now, I think what the truth is was disgusting and abusive and unjust and unfair; I won’t debate that for a minute. What I put in this document broke my heart.”
Craig said he found it hard to believe his colleague would make that kind of promise. If he did, Craig said, Gilley should have put it on the record while court was in session.
“I was a naïve, old attorney and I believed that when a judge gave me his world I would not have to tie him into it in the courtroom,” Gilley replied. “Now I’ve learned my lesson and I’m trying to teach all the young lawyers that I know: I don’t care if he is or she is wearing a black robe; do not believe that person is a man of his or her word.”
Gilley, 72, was ordered to pay a $100 contempt fine or be jailed for 24 hours. She initially told the judge she didn’t have the money and would serve the time. After declining the judge’s request to reconsider, Gilley was taken into custody by bailiffs and booked into the Bossier Parish jail. She was released two hours later. Sheriff’s deputies said they had no record of who paid her fine.
Gilley is challenging incumbent Caddo District Attorney James Stewart in the November election. She did not reply to email and phone messages from KTBS News seeking comment.
Gilley’s client, 23-year-old Keuntrel Knight, earlier this year was sentenced to 35 years in prison after pleading guilty to a reduced charge of manslaughter in the death of a 5-year-old-child who was accidentally shot as Knight fired at another man following an altercation at a woman’s mobile home in Bossier City. Knight also admitted wounding the man.
In a July motion asking for reconsideration of the sentence, Gilley said Self promised that Knight, who faced a mandatory life sentence had he been convicted as charged of second-degree murder, would receive no more than 20 years if he pleaded guilty to manslaughter. She also accused District Attorney Schuyler Marvin and an assistant of threatening a witness in the case to change her testimony.
Marvin asked that Gilley be held in contempt of court.
“The language used by Ms. Gilley is insulting, abusive, discourteous and irrelevant criticism of Judge Self as well as my office,” Marvin told the judge. “You just can’t call a judge a liar in a pleading and (then) say, ‘Well, I haven’t done anything; I hadn’t crossed the line.”
Gilley replied that Marvin, who is supporting Caddo D.A. Stewart’s bid for re-election, was trying to damage her reputation and her campaign. She also said Marvin had no right accusing her of being unethical – pointing to an August motor vehicle accident in which a friend of Marvin’s allegedly drove a vehicle belonging to the D.A.’s office into a bayou and then didn’t report the accident.
“You can use the D.A. car; here, go ahead,’” Gilley said. “You want to total it? Okay; that’s all right. That’s the kind of credibility we have — and yet I’m called in here when I speak the truth.”
Marvin did not return a call for comment about Gilley’s comments. He has repeatedly refused to answer questions from KTBS News about why attorney Lynn Lawrence, whose law practice includes criminal defense work, had a D.A.’s vehicle and whether he will seek restitution for the damaged vehicle.
Craig told Gilley he did not want to put her in jail, saying she could pay the $100 and end the matter.
“Your honor, I don’t have money available to pay $100,” Gilley said. “The bailiffs can take me to jail.”
“I sure wish you would reconsider that,” Craig replied, but Gilley would not.
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