Family Law

Attorney in custody battle announces judicial run against the judge on his case

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A Louisiana lawyer engaged in a custody battle on Monday announced that he would be running for judge. His opponent is the judge who presides over his case, who recently put him on house arrest for disregarding a court-ordered drug test.

Juan Labadie made the announcement Monday, the New Orleans Times Picayune reports, hours after Judge Michael Mentz found the Gretna attorney in contempt.

On Tuesday, a Louisiana appellate court suspended Mentz’s order to register with the home incarceration office, finding that Labadie did not have sufficient notice before the contempt hearing. Another hearing is scheduled for Monday.

Mentz was elected to the court two years ago in an unopposed race, and has said that he plans to run for retention. The qualifying period to be placed on the ballot ends Aug. 22.

Labadie, who filed for divorce from Lori Labadie in 2010, has denied that his actions are spiteful or meant to have Mentz removed from his custody case, the article states.

“It has been an accumulated series of actions of the law—I’m not going to say ignored—not followed,” Juan Labadie told the Times-Picayune. “I finally said this is not right. If I’m going to complain about it, I should put my money where my mouth is.”

Lori Labadie in April asked the court to order a drug test from Juan Labadie. According to her attorney, Juan Labadie had shown irrational behavior over the preceding month. His divorce attorney, Zoe Fleming, described those accusations as “false disgusting allegations.”

During the period in question, Juan Labadie was in trial defending a man ultimately convicted of sexual battery involving a 5-year-old girl. That case was also in front of Mentz. Juan Labadie later sought to compel testimony from Mentz, as well as prosecutors in the case, about his behavior during that trial, to support his claim he was not behaving erratically. Then after he’d served Mentz with a subpoena, Juan Labadie argued that Mentz should be removed from the custody case because Mentz was now a witness. Another judge denied the motion, and Labadie’s appeal of the ruling was denied.

Also, Juan Labadie told the Times-Picayune that he is not trying to hide any drug use.

“This is a privacy issue and this is a civil rights issue,’ he said. “If submitted I would pass, but that’s not the issue. My ex-wife has gotten exactly what she wanted out of this, which is to muddy the waters. And I’m not going to play that.”

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