Louisiana civil rights lawyer told Guns & Patriots his state license was suspended for blowing the whistle on St. Tammany Parish officials, who are under federal investigation for public corruption.
“The Louisiana Supreme Court suspended me because the guys in St. Tammany, including Supreme Court Justice Greg Guidry, wanted me suspended,” said Daniel G. Abel, attorney for Shane Gates, complainant in a 2013 federal lawsuit that charges St. Tammany Parish officials with eight counts of civil rights violations and one count of treason.
“They are trying to shut me up,” he said. “But there are more important things than a law license including the truth, integrity, and protection of people’s constitutional rights.”
In 2006, Gates was brutally beaten by St. Tammany sheriff deputies, he said. “It caused two eye injuries that required multiple surgeries and a diagnosis of permanent nerve damage.” In the incident, Gates was charged with aggravated flight arrest, and a jury returned a not guilty verdict in 2012, but he said that did not stop District Attorney Walter P. Reed from continuing to prosecute Gates in order to protect his own civil law firm and their clients from liability.
Gates’ 2013 complaint alleges that all official defendants, which includes Judge Richard A. Swartz, Clerk of the Court Marie-Elise Prieto, District Attorney Walter P. Reed, Assistant District Attorney Nicholas F. Noriea, and others, acted willfully in combination and in concert to deceive the court and the jury, thereby allowing the commission of unlawful acts designed to shield Sheriff Rodney “Jack” Strain, his deputies, and its insurance company from liability.
Reed specifically used his official and private positions for personal gain in violation of the Hobbs Act, said Abel. The Hobbs Act prohibits public officials from obtaining payment or services in exchange for official acts.
Reed’s private law firm McCranie Sistrunk, were counsel for St. Paul Travelers insurance company who insure St. Tammany Parish Sheriff Strain and his deputies, including Deputy Roger Gottardi, the deputy who beat Gates until he was unconscious, he said.
“Reed’s initial and continued use of the St. Tammany Parish District Attorney’s office to prosecute Gates, even after the jury found him not guilty was done to shield the McCranie Sistrunk clients from their liability for Gates’ permanent injuries and prognosed surgeries.”
Gates had filed a 2007 civil rights complaint that alleges Strain in collusion with Reed did repeatedly fabricate and manufacture facts, affidavits, charges, and reports in order to shield the deputies from civil rights claims and otherwise prevent Gates redress for violations of his constitutional rights, said Abel.
“Before the defendants could answer his complaint, Judge Stanwood Duval stayed the matter until the criminal case against Gates is over,” he said. “The stay has permitted Strain and Reed to refrain from answering the complaint since its filing over seven years ago.”
McCranie Sistrunk continues as counsel for the insurance carriers St. Paul Travelers, although the underlying federal grand jury investigations appeared to have caused them to remove their apparent “attorney of record” presence in both cases, he said. “The defendants have suggested to the court that neither District Attorney Reed nor his firm McCranie Sistrunk represents the insurance carriers even though there is evidence to show in other federal filings that this relationship still exists.”
Abel said the interim suspension was issued to prevent him from filing pleadings that continue to accuse St. Tammany officials of gross malfeasance. Typically an interim suspension is issued when an attorney is a threat of harm to the public, he said. “Since I have not done anything wrong to be a threat to the public, the Office of Disciplinary Counsel, an agency of the Louisiana Supreme Court, said my interim suspension was issued because my pleadings discredit the judges and officials in St. Tammany.”
“The real threat to the public is if this corruption is not exposed,” he said.
The ODC requested of Abel his entire criminal defendant files and a sworn statement about the criminal defendants, he said. “These are violations of my clients’ due process and constitutional rights.” Abel refused to turn over the information or files. He said the ODC, and its director Charles Plattsmier, have no integrity. “They will immediately give and share those criminal files with Reed.”
The Supreme Court is trying to keep Abel quiet at the request of St. Tammany officials because Reed, Strain, and some of the judges are the targets of a federal, criminal investigation, he said. Abel acknowledges that he has been cooperating with federal authorities in this investigation since 2008.
“The U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals offered me the opportunity to tell them what is going on with the Louisiana Supreme Court, and why they did this interim suspension,” said Abel. “They specifically said I am not suspended from practicing law in federal court.”
The Louisiana Supreme Court itself has also been the subject of a recent Department of Justice investigation, he said. “The Civil Rights Division of the DOJ recently found that the Louisiana Supreme Court has violated the rights of Americans with disabilities. The court has been ordered to pay those persons $200,000 in damages.”
Justice is crashing down on St. Tammany officials swiftly and certainly, he said.
“The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the federal grand jury have recently questioned numerous officials in the 22nd Judicial District Court,” he said. “The Modern Justice Foundation of Washington DC has also become involved in the investigation of these matters.”
Abel, who has practiced law in Louisiana, Puerto Rico, India, the Bronx and other states for over 30 years, said all of these apparent and known conflicts impugn the integrity of the entire legal system. “The actions of St. Tammany officials constitute treason and make all prior actions of those courts and its officers, void.”