Eight months after she was first assigned the case, state District Court Judge Janice Clark has recused herself from a legal matter related to her daughter's ongoing conflict with a family who accused Tasha Clark-Amar of abusing her position as head of the Council on Aging.
The judge's recusal comes as fallout continues to reverberate from the family who said in March that Clark-Amar coerced their grandmother through the Council on Aging into writing a questionable will. This is the second case Clark received related to the matter and the second recusal she has issued on it.
About a month before Clark issued her Nov. 20 recusal, fellow state District Judge Donald Johnson threatened to file a judicial complaint against Clark for her eight-month-long inaction on the case. Clark was assigned to oversee a petition for tutorship related to the estate and succession of Helen Plummer, who died at age 95 in March.
Plummer was a Council on Aging client and wrote a will that placed Clark-Amar in charge of her estate, for which Clark-Amar was to earn $120,000 over 20 years. Clark-Amar relinquished the role of administering the will after a cloud of media attention, with Plummer's family saying the Council on Aging executive director had coerced their grandmother into leaving her money in the will.
Clark-Amar has denied any coercion and filed a defamation lawsuit against the family. That case was also originally assigned to Clark, who recused herself more than a month after it was assigned to her.
More than a month after being assigned her daughter's defamation lawsuit, state District Judge Janice Clark has removed herself from the proce…
In the separate tutorship case, Plummer left money in her will to her great-granddaughter, who is a minor. Plummer's granddaughter Tracie Davis petitioned the court to sign a settlement agreement for the minor's portion of Plummer's estate until her underage child becomes an adult.
Petitions for tutorship are handled as separate cases from succession hearings. While Clark was to oversee the tutorship, Johnson has been presiding over the succession.
Though Davis filed the petition for tutorship March 27, Clark did not issue a recusal until Nov. 20, according to court documents. There are no indications in the court record that Clark took any action related to the tutorship. Davis said in previous interviews that she routinely checked in with Clark's office to find out why the petition remained unsigned but did not receive an answer.
An unsigned court petition is delaying a settlement agreement in the long-running estate case of Helen Plummer which enveloped the East Baton …
"I have declined to preside over all matters involving these parties," Clark wrote in her recusal letter.
The judge's office did not respond to a message Tuesday asking about the reasoning behind the recusal and the timing of it.
All the while, Clark-Amar's leadership at the Council on Aging has been the subject of multiple probes. The state's Office of Inspector General is investigating Clark-Amar and Council on Aging board member Dorothy Jackson's roles in drafting Plummer's will and has issued at least five subpoenas in their investigation.
The Council on Aging has also been under scrutiny since the nonprofit, quasi-governmental organization's bid for a dedicated property tax last year. After voters approved the tax, the Louisiana Legislative Auditor completed an investigation this May that says the Council on Aging may have broken both state and federal laws amid the campaign.
The state Inspector General's office has issued at least five subpoenas in an investigation into the East Baton Rouge Council on Aging's execu…
Johnson is also the only judge in the 19th Judicial District who did not recuse himself from Clark-Amar's defamation lawsuit against the Plummer family. He expressed his frustration at a separate hearing Oct. 31 about the lack of progress in settling Plummer's estate.
After attorneys told Johnson the hold up in settling Plummer's estate was the unsigned tutorship, Johnson requested they file a complaint with the judicial administrator about Clark's inaction. He said he would file one himself if the attorneys did not do so.
Johnson said Tuesday the state's "juridical ethical rules" prevented him from answering whether he filed a judicial complaint against Clark. He said he had been made aware of Clark's recusal.
The Louisiana Supreme Court's public information office said they could not confirm or deny any complaints made to the Judiciary Commission about Clark's inaction on the tutorship.