In the two weeks since Richard Reed was indicted on four felony counts, including sexual battery and kidnapping, in relation to an incident at a Covington bar, three state district judges have refused to hear the case, citing the possible appearance of impropriety due to relationships with Reed or his family.
Reed — the brother of Walter Reed, the former five-term district attorney for St. Tammany and Washington parishes — was charged by a St. Tammany grand jury March 10. Prosecutors from the Louisiana Attorney General’s Office have been handling the case because Walter Reed, who was still the DA when his brother was arrested in August, immediately recused his office.
On March 10, Richard Reed’s indictment was returned in Judge August Hand’s courtroom. But Hand recused himself from any further proceedings in the case just two days later, writing in a short order: “The defendant is the brother of Walter Reed, the former district attorney for the 22nd Judicial District Court, with whom I have had a both personal and professional relationship.”
The case re-entered the district’s random allotment and this time was assigned to Judge Raymond Childress. He recused himself on March 23, saying that he and his family “are familiar with Richard Reed and his family.” According to the court’s website, Childress previously served as an assistant district attorney in St. Tammany Parish; whether he served under Reed or his predecessor, Marion Farmer, is not clear.
The case then was reassigned to Judge Reginald Badeaux III, who recused himself the next day. Badeaux “is familiar with Richard Reed to such an extent that might cause a disinterested bystander to presuppose an appearance of impropriety,” he wrote. Badeaux was an assistant district attorney under Walter Reed until 1997.
The case has now been allotted to Judge Peter Garcia, where arraignment is pending. Garcia also was an assistant district attorney for St. Tammany and Washington parishes, but the court’s website does not specify the years.
Richard Reed was arrested a week after a bizarre incident at a bar, where police responded to calls about an intoxicated and belligerent woman. The woman was found a block away from the restaurant in the back seat of Reed’s car. Reed showed the police officers a badge indicating he was an investigator with the DA’s Office and insisted he was taking the woman home, but officers took her to the police station to be checked out by paramedics.
While she was there, Reed showed up at the station several times and offered to take the woman home. But she told police she didn’t know him and didn’t want to go with him. At the time, the woman was cited for public intoxication and released.
A week later, after reviewing security camera footage from the restaurant, police arrested Reed and said the woman had become belligerent in response to repeated groping by Reed. He was booked on a single count of sexual battery in August.
Earlier this month, the grand jury indicted him on the same charge and added counts of kidnapping, intimidating a witness and intimidation of a police officer. The latter two charges stem from his alleged attempts to persuade the restaurant to keep the situation quiet and his berating of an officer at the station when he tried to pick the woman up.
Walter Reed has his own legal troubles: A federal investigation into some of his dealings while DA is reportedly nearing a conclusion. It’s been a precipitous fall for the once-powerful official, who decided amid a torrent of negative publicity and federal subpoenas not to run for a sixth term as chief prosecutor for the two north shore parishes.
Follow Faimon A. Roberts III on Twitter, @faimon.