The attorney for a man accused in the 2018 hit-and-run death of a Zachary firefighter is trying to have a Baton Rouge judge who dressed down the lawyer earlier this year disqualified from presiding over the case.

New Orleans lawyer Martin Regan, who represents Albert Franklin Jr., filed a motion Friday seeking the recusal of state District Judge Beau Higginbotham from the manslaughter case.

Regan cited, among other things, a provision of the Louisiana Code of Criminal Procedure that says a judge shall be recused when he "is biased, prejudiced, or personally interested in the cause to such an extent that he would be unable to conduct a fair and impartial trial."

Regan argued that another ground for Higginbotham's recusal can be found in the Code of Judicial Conduct, which states that a judge "shall be patient, dignified, and courteous to … lawyers."

The filing of the motion to recuse came four weeks after a state appeals court reversed Higginbotham's April contempt-of-court finding against Regan and lawyer Harry Ward, who also was representing Franklin at the time but no longer does.

State District Judge Bonnie Jackson will decide the recusal question after Higginbotham ordered the matter to be randomly re-allotted to another judge in the 19th Judicial District Court.

In April, Higginbotham fined Regan $100 and Ward $50 for what the judge described as their disgraceful handling of Franklin's case in the killing of Zachary firefighter and reserve police officer Christopher Lawton, 41.

Regan, in an interview with The Advocate that day, called the judge's actions and comments embarrassing, ridiculous and outrageous.

The judge held Regan in contempt and fined him after he failed to appear the morning of April 10 for a hearing in Franklin's case. Regan showed up that afternoon in Higginbotham's Baton Rouge courtroom and explained he had been in court in Jefferson Parish earlier that day on another felony case.

Higginbotham found Ward in contempt and fined him for what the judge described as Ward's unprepared and ineffective representation of Franklin during a hearing that morning on a motion to suppress Franklin's statements to authorities.

Higginbotham denied the suppression motion after Franklin, 34, of Zachary, took the stand and, on the advice of Ward, asserted his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.

A three-judge panel of the 1st Circuit Court of Appeal, which said the record did not support a finding of contempt of court against Regan and Ward, rejected an appeal of the judge's denial of Franklin's motion to suppress.

Regan has said he will take the suppression issue to the Louisiana Supreme Court.

Franklin is scheduled to be tried next week, but the trial is expected to be delayed.

Franklin, a convicted felon, was free on drug and gun counts after posting bail in a November 2017 arrest in East Baton Rouge Parish when Lawton and another officer tried to arrest him March 12, 2018, on a gun-related offense that occurred earlier that month.

Lawton was struck and killed during the arrest attempt by a U-Haul truck driven by Franklin in the parking lot of the Walmart on Plank Road in Baker.

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