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A Ponchatoula Mayor’s Court magistrate has recused himself from the case of a mayoral candidate accused of assaulting a sheriff candidate so it doesn’t play out too close to the Oct. 12 election — one in which the magistrate is also running for a seat on the district court.

Bub Tucker II, who has filed as one of three candidates opposing incumbent Ponchatoula Mayor Robert F. "Bob" Zabbia, is accused of confronting Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff candidate Arden Wells in the Ponchatoula Library in September of last year.

Tucker claims that Wells had been degrading him on Wells' Facebook profile on which he often posts rumors and tips he hears from the community. Tucker said he filmed the encounter on his cellphone, and a video subsequently posted on Facebook shows Tucker walking up to Wells at the computers and saying in part “when you’ve got something to say to me, you say it to my face.”

The Ponchatoula Police Department report filed in Mayor’s Court says Tucker faces a count each of disturbing the peace and simple assault.

Tucker was scheduled to appear before the Mayor’s Court Tuesday but attorney Ernie Drake — who Zabbia appointed to oversee Mayor’s Court — continued the hearing until Oct. 22 to give the court time to find an ad hoc magistrate to take his place.

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Drake is running for a district judge position in the 21st Judicial District.

Drake did not respond to a request for comment, but Zabbia said in a phone interview this week that he believes that postponement decision was made, at least in part, to avoid an appearance of conflict prior to the election. 

“(Drake) always acts in a prudent way. … I think it’s the right thing to do,” Zabbia said.

Zabbia said he does not oversee Mayor’s Court himself, so there was no likelihood of his opponent’s case coming before him, but he appointed Drake as magistrate.

He said it’s not uncommon to seek an ad hoc judge in instances where Drake needs to recuse himself, and often it’s done by finding someone suitable from a surrounding municipality that also uses the Lawrason Act.

Tucker, however, said he was not concerned with the public image and wanted to go ahead with the hearing. In addition to the accusation regarding Wells, Tucker faced a hearing on that date for accusations of a 2012 assault at a bar following the Ponchatoula Strawberry Festival.

Records say Tucker punched a man in the face while waiting in line for the bathroom. He has failed to appear in Mayor’s Court numerous times since then, but said that was an oversight because he didn’t know he needed to be in the city court.

“It’s very unfortunate but at this point it is what it is, I could pay for the disturbing the peace charge and be done with it but I wanted to have my say,” Tucker said, referring to the Wells case.

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