Judge in Peralta cases recuses himself; arraignment postponed

Judge in Peralta cases recuses himself; arraignment postponed

BATON ROUGE, LA (WVUE) - St. Bernard Parish President Dave Peralta will have to wait a while longer to enter a plea in the latest case against him.

Peralta showed up in state court in Baton Rouge Friday to be arraigned, but Judge Beau Higginbotham recused himself because his sister works for the attorney general's office that's prosecuting the case.

Both sides agreed with the judge's move.

"It was the right thing to do, I mean, his sister works for our office, and we have some family connections," said Assistant. Attorney General David Caldwell.

"The judge we were originally assigned to has recused himself for good reasons because of his knowledge and relationships with the parties," said Peralta attorney Martin Regan.

Earlier this week, a grand jury in Baton Rouge indicted Peralta. He is accused of using campaign funds for what prosecutor say is a gambling habit.

Though Peralta waited hours to see if the second judge who was assigned the case Friday would actually arraign him, it did not happen.

"We understand that the judge got this case at the last moment, and he had other matters to deal with," Peralta said.

His attorney did however file a speedy trial motion.

"We're anxious to get this case tried as quickly as possible," Regan said. "We've got an election coming up in October, and I think once we put the evidence before a judge and a jury, the chances are extremely good that this case will be resolved very favorably towards Mr. Peralta."

"We'll get it done as soon as we can, but we're not going to come up here every day just to accommodate him," Caldwell said. I mean, we've got other cases, other parishes that we have to service. We've got other work to do."

Peralta's attorney continues to say that he believes that his client is being prosecuted for political reasons.

"They've timed this. I've said it before it's a political lynching," Regan said.

"We have a lot of work to do, I mean, to think that our office, our whole world revolves around Mr. Peralta is a little bit silly, to be quite honest with you," Caldwell said.

When Peralta is arraigned, we know what to expect.

"Not guilty," said Regan.

"Absolutely not guilty," echoed Peralta.

His attorney said the new judge plans to have the arraignment within 30 days.

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