Assistant DA drops lawsuit against sheriff's office;
DA investigator's suit remains active

(BATON ROUGE, La.) -- Assistant District Attorney Tony Clayton and the Sheriff's Office last week settled a lawsuit stemming from extortion allegations lodged against Clayton that later were dropped.

Neither side would discuss the terms of the out-of-court settlement, citing a confidentiality agreement.

But Clayton said on Oct. 14 that he is satisfied with the resolution.

"The settlement, in and of itself, clears my name, and that's all I wanted from the beginning," Clayton said.

Clayton and Marvin J. Pollet, an investigator for Clayton, sued the Sheriff's Office after they were accused of trying to bully John Barton, a Hammond doctor, into paying $100,000 in a civil case.

Both were booked in the case in 1995, and Clayton resigned from the East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney's Office.

Prosecutors with the state Attorney General's Office later dropped the case against Clayton and Pollet.

At the time, the prosecution said that Barton gave several conflicting statements to authorities about what Clayton had said and done.

Crucial points in extortion cases are what people said, how they said it and what their intentions were, the prosecution said.

Clayton was rehired by the District Attorney's Office in 1997.

In 1998, he was appointed to temporarily fill a seat vacated when Ralph Tyson was named to a U.S. District Court judgeship.

Pollet's suit against the Sheriff's Office still is active.

State District Judge Don Johnson is hearing the case this week.

Pollet's attorney contends there were political motives behind his client's arrest.

Dale Dicharry, a former detective with the Sheriff's Office, testified on Oct. 13 that Sheriff's Chief Criminal Deputy Col. Mike Barnett told him he wanted to embarrass District Attorney Doug Moreau through Clayton.

Dicharry said Barnett used a racial slur to refer to Clayton. Dicharry testified that Barnett prompted the criminal investigation of Clayton and Pollet.

Dicharry said he didn't discuss his concerns with Sheriff Elmer Litchfield because he feared being fired, transferred or demoted.

Sheriff's Lt. Paul Venable testified Tuesday that he took over the investigation from Dicharry.

Venable said, "pretty much everything (was) left to be done" on the case when he got it.

Pollet was questioned by the Sheriff's Office for more than three hours.

By the end of the interview, Pollet said he was sent to scare the doctor into making an out-of-court settlement, Venable said.

Testimony resumes today in Johnson's court.

Johnson, who usually handles criminal matters, is hearing the case because all civil judges in the 19th Judicial District recused themselves.

Most of the judges cited Clayton's stint as a temporary judge as the reason for their recusal.

(iSyndicate; The Advocate; Nov. 15, 2000) Terms and Conditions: Copyright(c) 2000 LEXIS-NEXIS, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights Reserved.

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