Wife of New Orleans judge ratchets up defense against domestic battery charges _lowres

Judge Paul Sens ORG XMIT: BAT1405281356241977

Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry’s office last month dropped all charges against the ex-wife of Orleans Parish Municipal Court Judge Paul Sens, who was accused of biting him on his arm during a fight the day after she filed for divorce in 2014.

Prosecutors had charged Ann Sens, 57, with domestic abuse battery and disturbing the peace after the May 2, 2014, scuffle inside the couple’s Lakeview home.

But after two years of legal twists and turns, including the recusal of Orleans Parish District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro, the case ended with a June 30 letter from the Attorney General’s Office dismissing the charges.

Ruth Wisher, a spokeswoman for Landry's office, said the case was dismissed after Ann Sens completed a pre-trial diversion program.

"Our office felt this dismissal was in the best interest of justice," Wisher said. "The outcome was part of (the office's) review of the previous administration’s ongoing court cases, unfinished investigations and cases awaiting action."

Retired Judge James Cannella, who was appointed to oversee the case by the state Supreme Court on an ad hoc basis, vacated a Sept. 22 trial date after receiving the dismissal letter last week.

Richard Ducote, Ann Sens’ lawyer, said he was glad the charges had been dismissed and also chalked the decision up to the shift from former AG Buddy Caldwell to Landry.

“I think we would have won had they tried her, but they’re not trying her," Ducote said.

Sens had admitted to biting her then-husband but claimed she did so only after he punched her.

She had sought a special prosecutor to consider charges against the judge.

The criminal proceedings against Sens were one of three court cases she was involved in as a result of her contentious breakup with her husband after a 30-year marriage. Although the couple was divorced on May 5, 2015, the case to divide their property remains ongoing.

Ann Sens also filed a civil lawsuit seeking damages against her then-husband in March 2015, over what she claimed were decades of physical abuse.

The damages lawsuit remains unresolved. Ducote said it is “sitting there, and not a lot has happened on it.”

An attorney for Judge Sens, who has sat on the Municipal Court bench for 20 years, declined immediate comment on the attorney general’s decision.

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msledge@theadvocate.com | (504) 636-7432