Wanted: Judge to preside over Richard Reed case

Wanted: Judge to preside over Richard Reed case

ST. TAMMANY PARISH, LA (WVUE) - Another St. Tammany judge on Thursday recused himself from hearing the state's sexual battery and kidnapping case against former District Attorney Walter Reed's brother.

Judge Ray Childress is the third judge to remove himself from the case.

It's a case that the assistant attorney general says is "as serious as it gets."

"But for the Covington Police Department stopping this guy, they would have been investigating a rape instead of a battery and kidnapping," Assistant Attorney General David Caldwell said two weeks ago.

That's when a St. Tammany grand jury indicted Richard Reed, the brother of former D.A. Walter Reed, on four counts, including sexual battery, second-degree kidnapping, public intimidation and impeding a witness after an incident last year, in the Chimes restaurant.

"Mr. Reed is observed groping breasts and putting hands on genitalia on numerous occasions," said Covington Police Chief Tim Lentz in August 2014 after Reed's arrest.

But it's hard to find a St. Tammany judge to take the case.

"It's not totally subjective," said FOX 8 legal analyst Joe Raspanti. "There are guidelines for judges when they should recuse themselves, but there's a great subjective component. So when they think there's an appearance of impropriety, possibly they should choose to go in this direction."

This latest recusal further delays a Reed arraignment hearing, where the state lays out the charges against the accused who then enters a plea.

"His brother was D.A. for 30 years," Raspanti said. "Everyone knows the D.A. or his brother. I'm not surprised."

There are 10 judges in St. Tammany Parish, and if all recuse themselves, it could be several months before Reed is arraigned.

"Technically, every judge has to file a recusal on their own unless someone decides they're going to take the case, and if not, they all have to file it, and I don't know how long that's going to take," Raspanti said.

Reed's attorney, Buddy Spell, isn't concerned, saying, "Richard Reed's out on bond, he's not in jail, I just want the procedure to play out."

"The extra time could be useful, but it won't be that much time to be of real significance," Raspanti said.

If every St. Tammany judge recuses, the Supreme Court would appoint a judge from outside the parish to preside.

The next arraignment hearing for Richard Reed is set for April 13 before another longtime St. Tammany judge, Peter Garcia. So far he has not indicated whether he will remain on the case.

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