By Judiciary Commission
The Louisiana Judiciary Commission has opened an investigation into Shreveport City Judge Sheva M. Sims, taking depositions in Shreveport this week. At least four assistant clerks from the Shreveport City Clerk’s office received subpoena from Lantz Savage, Assistant Special Counsel of the Judiciary Commission to appear for sworn statements under oath. Additionally at least one member (or former member) of the Shreveport City Marshal’s office has also been questioned about Judge Sims.
Sims was elected as Shreveport City Judge in 2011, winning a close election against Shanté Wells. Sim’s has previously conducted unsuccessful races for the Shreveport City Council. Her term is up for re-election in the fall of 2015, and she is expected to draw at least one formidable opposition candidate.
Sims had a checkered legal career before her election to a judgeship. As a practicing attorney, she was notorious for being late to court, and many attorneys report that she was frequently ill-prepared for court matters.
As a sitting judge Sims has had her challenges, to say the least. On one occasion she dismissed over 15 pending criminal cases in a fit of rage over the failure of an assistant city attorney to be in court on time. During a stretch of several months, Sims reportedly adjourned afternoon court sessions to pick up her children from school and then admonished court/marshal personnel over any mention of the reason for her absence from courtrooms full of defendants, witnesses and attorneys.
The Supreme Court rules provide that all documents filed with the Commission along with the evidence and proceedings before the Commission are confidential. Nonetheless several individuals interviewed by Judiciary Commission counsel are very concerned (and rightly so) about possible retribution by Sims for any unfavorable testimony. Hopefully the Commission will take appropriate steps to ensure the court employees are not the subject of any such actions, – and that Shreveport City Clerk Robert Shemwell will also do the same.
When sworn in as a judge, Sims had one of the most elaborate ceremonies in recent memory with many speakers, fancy food from New Orleans and over the top pomp and circumstance. Word has it that those in the city court building who did not attend her soiree, – or at least pay sufficient homage to the new judge, – were reprimanded. Sims has not been reluctant to complain to supervisors of court personnel, including the City Attorney’s Office and the City Marshal’s Office, about any (perceived) slights to her position or authority.
The results of the Commission’s investigation will not be made public; thus the scope and nature of the investigation is officially unknown. The Commission has the authority to recommend to the Louisiana Supreme Court that judges be removed, and reportedly it actions have lead to the retirement/resignation of several local judges in the recent past. Any action taken by the Commission is expected to be this year, and final resolution of this investigation should be completed several months before the qualifying date for the 2014 judicial election.