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5 judges decline to hear St. Bernard parish president’s divorce

The pending divorce case involving St. Bernard Parish President Dave Peralta and his estranged spouse, Sharon Schaefer, has hit an initial snag. All five local Louisiana judges determined that they should recuse themselves from presiding over the dissolution of marriage proceeding. Their actions came after the wife requested that they withdraw from the case, pointing to their prior working relations with her husband in his official capacity, including his role in helping to set a portion of the budget of the court, as well as his prior endorsement of a number of the judges when they ran for election and financial contributions to some campaigns.

Meanwhile a motion for a protective order against her husband that she filed in Orleans Parish was dismissed, with the judge there ruling that she should have filed her papers in St. Bernard Parish, that being the proper place for the motion to be heard. The wife has publicly asserted that her husband raped her when she had her 49th birthday in October, and then tried to get her in December to commit herself to a mental hospital, becoming enraged when she declined to do so. He allegedly then said that he might try to get her involuntarily placed in a mental hospital.

The Louisiana Supreme Court has now assigned a judge from outside the parish to hear proceedings in the case. The judge in a divorce proceeding should not be biased toward either of the parties, and is expected to withdraw if their presiding over the case even presents the appearance of impropriety. The role of the divorce attorneys on each side of the case, in contrast, is to zealously advocate for the interests of their respective clients and to be wholeheartedly in their corner in attempting to resolve the issues in the case.

Source: The Times-Picayune, "All five St. Bernard judges recuse themselves from parish president's divorce case" Benjamin Alexander-Bloch, Feb. 05, 2014

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