LIVINGSTON -- District Attorney Scott M. Perrilloux (DA) did not take long to make his decision.
In a letter to the Attorney General's Office (AG) Thursday, Perrilloux recused himself from proceedings against Dennis and Cynthia Perkins, who both face hearings next week.
On Oct. 23, 2019, Dennis Wallace Perkins, 44, was arrested for two counts of video voyeurism, two counts of obscenity, sixty-three counts of pornography involving juveniles under 13 years of age, and two counts of first degree rape. This week, Dennis Perkins was terminated from his position as a lieutenant in the Livingston Parish Sheriff's Office.
Co-defendant Cynthia Thompson Perkins, 34, was also arrested on October 23, 2019, for sixty counts of pornography involving juveniles under 13 years of age, and two counts of first degree rape. She resigned from her teaching duties at Westside Junior High Wednesday morning.
The letter to the DA stated:
In accordance with Louisiana Code of Criminal Procedure Article 681, the District Attorney has recused himself from this case and asserts that a ground for recusation exists. More specifically, as maintained in Louisiana Code of Criminal Procedure Article 680 (1), the District Attorney submits that he has a personal interest in the cause or grand jury proceeding which is in conflict with the fair and impartial administration of justice.
Perrilloux's decision comes as both Perkins face 313 hearings and are being held without bail until such time. Cynthia will face trial Monday, Oct. 28 at 9 a.m. Dennis will face trial Wednesday, Oct. 30, at 9 a.m.
Judge Robert Morris signed the procedure for Article 313 the same day as the arrest.
Article 313, otherwise known as "Gwen's Law," establishes that a contradictory bail hearing can be held prior to setting bail for a person charged with domestic abuse battery, violation of protective orders, stalking, or any felony offense involving the use or threatened use of force or a deadly weapon upon their family member, household member, or dating partner.
When the court orders a contradictory hearing, Louisiana Code of Criminal Procedure § 316.A.(2) establishes the hearing must be held within five days from the date of determination of probable cause, exclusive of weekends and legal holidays.
The court will determine the conditions of bail or whether an alleged offender should be held without bail pending trial. The court is required to notify the prosecuting attorney prior to setting bail, if it decides not to hold a contradictory hearing.
The factors listed in Article 316 of the Louisiana Code of Criminal Procedure include:
- The seriousness of the offense charged
- The weight of the evidence against the alleged offender
- The alleged offender's previous criminal record
- The ability of the alleged offender to make bail
- The nature and seriousness of the danger to any other person or the community that would be posed by the alleged offender's release
- The alleged offender's voluntary participation in a pretrial drug testing program
- The absence or presence in the alleged offender of any controlled dangerous substance
- Whether the alleged offender is currently out on bail for a previous felony arrest awaiting prosecution, arraignment, trial, or sentencing
- Any other circumstances affecting the probability of alleged offender's appearance, and the type or form of bail
In addition to the factors listed above, Gwen's Law provides that a judge or magistrate must also consider the criminal history of the alleged offender; the potential threat or danger the alleged offender poses to the alleged victim, the family of the alleged victim, or to any member of the public, especially children; and also, the documented history or records of any of the following:
- Substance abuse by the alleged offender;
- Threats of suicide by the alleged offender;
- The alleged offender's use of force or threats of use of force against any victim;
- Strangulation, forced sex, or controlling the activities of any victim by the alleged offender; and,
- Threats to kill.
Gwen's Law establishes that the documented history or records can include but are not limited to sworn affidavits, police reports, and medical records.
Following the contradictory hearing, the judge or magistrate can order the alleged offender to be held without bail pending trial, when it is proven by clear and convincing evidence that there is either a substantial risk that the alleged offender may flee or that the offender poses an imminent danger to any other person or the community.
Under Louisiana Code of Criminal Procedure § 313.C.(1), a contradictory bail hearing must be held prior to setting bail for a person in custody who has either been charged with a sex offense and has been previously convicted of a sex offense. On motion of a prosecuting attorney, a court can perform an in-camera examination of the evidence against the accused, and Louisiana Code of Criminal Procedure § 313.C.(4) provides that the court must take into consideration factors listed in Article 316 of the Louisiana Code of Criminal Procedure as well as:
- The previous criminal record of the alleged offender
- Any potential threat or danger the defendant poses to the victim, the family of the victim, or to any member of the public, particularly children
- Any statistical evidence prepared by the United States Department of Justice relative to the likelihood of any person convicted of sexually inappropriate conduct with a prepubescent child under 13 years of age to commit similar offenses against juvenile victims in the future.
Gwen's Law does not establish specific criteria to determine the level of threat in domestic violence cases, and many courts have busy dockets that can make it difficult to hold contradictory hearings. The result is that some people can be denied bail despite not actually posing any risk of fleeing or being a threat of danger to others.
In accordance with Louisiana Code of Criminal Procedure Article 681, the District Attorney has recused himself from this case and asserts that a ground for recusation exists.
More specifically, as maintained in Louisiana Code of Criminal Procedure Article 680 (1), the District Attorney submits that he has a personal interest in the cause or grand jury proceeding which is in conflict with the fair and impartial administration of justice.