Judge Bennett recuses Judge Spruill in Vincent Simmons case

Motion to recuse District Attorney to be heard on May 21 in Avoyelles Parish courthouse
Vincent Simmons (KALB)
Vincent Simmons (KALB)(KALB)
Published: May. 5, 2021 at 4:00 PM CDT
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ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB) - Avoyelles Parish Judge William Bennett has recused fellow Judge Kerry Spruill in the Vincent Simmons case.

Simmons, who was living in Mansura at the time, is serving a 100-year sentence for the 1977 attempted aggravated rape of twin sisters. According to court records, the trial happened 60 days after the allegation and Simmons was convicted in one day. He remains in Angola prison. His attorney is trying to get his conviction and sentence vacated.

The recusal decision was made after attorneys for Simmons filed a motion claiming that Spruill’s prior attorney-client relationship with a potential witness, and a prior business relationship with another potential witness, could appear improper.

According to the ruling, during his testimony, Spruill confirmed “many years ago” he represented one potential witness in a custody proceeding and that he knew another potential witness “for more than 20 years.”

“Judge Spruill testified that he felt obligated to disclose the prior attorney-client relationship and opined that his recusal in that case was imperative to remove all appearance of impropriety,” Bennett wrote.

Bennett also wrote in his reasoning that in a parish like Avoyelles, it’s common to know litigants and witnesses.

“If simply knowing someone or having represented someone in a prior matter would require recusation, then and in that event this court estimates that at least one-half of the cases pending in Division B of the Twelfth Judicial District Court would require this judge to recuse,” he wrote.

There’s a pending motion to recuse the district attorney. That will be heard May 21. Simmons is represented by Justin Bonus.

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