By Order of Recusal filed September 23 Judge Thomas Kliebert bowed out of Kenny Matassa’s suit seeking reimbursement of criminal defense fees incurred to defend a felony bribery charge in 2017-18. Matassa was acquitted after a two-day bench trial over which Kliebert presided on July 10-11, 2018. The current litigation was re-allotted to Division D, Judge Jessie LeBlanc’s court.
In his recusal order Kliebert wrote:
“The undersigned (Kliebert) presided over the criminal trial of the plaintiff which resulted in the Court’s acquittal of the charges which is the subject of this litigation. During the course of the criminal trial, testimony and evidence relative to assertions of this litigation were presented. Based upon the Court’s presiding over the criminal trial of the plaintiff, in order to avoid the appearance of any biased, prejudiced, or interest in the cause or outcome the undersigned feels that he should not preside over this matter…”
In the criminal proceeding Kliebert was the target of a motion to recuse filed by Attorney General Jeff Landry’s office which had assumed the prosecution after District Attorney Ricky Babin opted out. That motion was waived by Assistant Attorney General Jeff Traylor after a 30 minute conference in chambers in early 2018.
Court records indicate one additional pending pleading, a Motion to Compel Matassa to “Consent to Release of Expunged Records” related to his criminal proceeding.
The entire criminal record was expunged after Matassa’s acquittal.