Jill Craft, fired LSP Trooper Carl Cavalier’s former attorney, who withdrew as his counsel (both for his Federal civil rights lawsuit and for his pending appeal before the Louisiana State Police Commission) has been accused of coercion by Cavalier’s new attorneys, Clifton Ivey, Jr., and James C. Carver, PhD.
When we first began reporting upon the fact that fired LSP Trooper Carl Cavalier was unwilling to accept LSP’s efforts to cram a $200,000 settlement offer right down his throat, we included the fact that Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry, in representing Louisiana State Police (LSP), made it known that LSP opposed Cavalier’s former attorney, Jill Craft, entailing her Motion to Withdraw as Cavalier’s Counsel of Record. LSP (and Landry’s) opposition notwithstanding, Craft’s Motion was granted.
Why was LSP so adamant that Craft not be permitted to withdraw? That is now so obvious that even the late Ray Charles could have seen why LSP feared a withdrawal by Craft. LSP wanted Craft to be forced to remain on the case, as illogical as that is, because they knew they could count on her to continue portraying to Cavalier that his case was hopeless as she communicated that he’d “lose all your leverage” if things “go south” before the Louisiana State Police Commission (LSPC), for which she volunteered that, “I sure as shit don’t like those people!”
If Cavalier procured new counsel, which he did in the persons of Clifton J. Ivey, Jr., and James C. Carver, PhD, LSP feared that would torpedo its efforts to solidify the $200,000 cramdown offer. That torpedoing, in turn, would mean that all of Craft’s alleged “coercion” efforts on Cavalier would be down the drain. That would also mean that this whole episode could become both LSP and Attorney General Jeff Landry’s worst nightmare, particularly given Landry’s quest to become Louisiana’s next Governor.
Well, the nightmare took on a whole new meaning, particularly as it relates to attorney Jill Craft, as Cavalier’s new team filed this Motion in Opposition to LSP’s Efforts to Enforce a Settlement upon Cavalier on Thursday, December 22, 2022, and the filing is complete with emails from Cavalier to Craft which, in our opinion, particularly an email of October 13, 2022, are extremely damning to Craft. From the memo:
Plaintiff indicated to his counsel that he would not settle the case unless certain nonmonetary aspects of his employment were included in any settlement. During the settlement conference Mr. Cavalier had attempted to re-direct his counsel’s attention to a certain non-monetary aspect of the settlement, namely his re-employment with state police. On or about September 27, 2022, during a telephone conversation between Mr. Cavalier and his attorney, Ms. Craft outlined the settlement proposed by the Defendant, including holding a settlement conference before a magistrate judge. During the settlement conference Mr. Cavalier had attempted to re-direct his counsel’s attention to a certain non-monetary aspect of the settlement, namely his re-employment with state police which she refused to do. That Cavalier’s re-employment was essential and material term, rather than a mere issue of how the settlement would be implemented had to be known. He repeatedly communicated this, and his desire to go forward with his administrative appeal to the Louisiana State Police Commission to his counsel. Certainly by this time the defendants had to know this was a material issue to Cavalier as they were well aware of the State Police Commission appeal.
Cavalier has shown through communications to his attorney that he did not want to settle, nor did he give his counsel authority to settle, for the amount that had apparently been offered at least a month prior to the settlement conference. What was vitally important to him was reemployment, and in lieu of that, to have his hearing before the State Police Commission. Whatever affirmations he made at the conclusion of the settlement conference were due to the pressure and coercion by his counsel.
Although Cavalier participated in the settlement conference with the benefit of counsel, his instructions were ignored. Through numerous citations herein, he had long since informed his counsel that he disagreed with the settlement amount and explained his rationale why. He was clear that he wanted to proceed with his hearing before the State Police Commission if favorable
settlement on his reemployment could not be reached. As Cavalier has raised the claim that he was unduly pressured and coerced to agree, which goes to the validity of the settlement agreement itself, this Court should not rule summarily on these motions, but rather afford him a hearing.
Furthermore, on October 13, 2022, Cavalier wrote
” ………. As for the proposed settlement, I am not comfortable with it and have never been comfortable with it. I have expressed that to you verbally and in writing. While in the conference with the magistrate judge, I asked you to ask for my job back. You refused to even present it to the judge or opposing counsel. I expressed to you prior to settlement talks that I wanted to proceed with my case through LSP commission hearings and other necessary avenues with hopes of getting my job back.
Mr. Cavalier also sought relief regarding at least one non-pecuniary aspect of the case, namely to get his job back at Louisiana State Police. He repeatedly asked his counsel to seek this relief both before and during the settlement conference, which was repeatedly refused. It is beyond belief that Mr. Cavalier consistently maintained his position regarding acceptable settlement terms in every communication with his attorney, yet not on the date of the settlement conference.
We’ve previously posted Cavalier’s recorded phone calls and one discussion with Craft (see pages 40-68 of the preceding link). Here’s one final parting statement by Craft to Cavalier in the waning moments of her representing him (see page 64 on the preceding link and, more specifically, the bottom of page 12 of that recorded conversation between Cavalier and Craft):
Carl, I told you, I need to get counsel myself. And that’s what I’m going to do.
We’d say that was a pretty good idea on Craft’s part!
As for Landry, as the old saying goes, “You’ve made your bed, so now you can sleep in it!”
Cavalier’s attorneys repeatedly stressed (and cited case law) that should prompt Judge deGravelles to convene an open-court hearing for both LSP’s Motion and Cavalier’s Motion to be argued to him for a ruling. If he does, we commit to attend that court hearing and report thereafter on its outcome.
We wish everyone a very Merry Christmas on Sunday!
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