from the Twenty-Sixth Judicial District Court for the Parish
of Webster, Louisiana Trial Court Nos. 71, 510, 71, 443, and
71, 515 Honorable John M. Robinson, Judge (Pro
MINIFIELD & HARPER By: Pamela Harper Jacob Counsel for
LAW OFFICES OF WILLIAMS & WILLIAMS, P.L.C. By: Sandra M.
Williams Counsel for Appellee
DAVID KNOWLES, JR. In Proper Person
MOORE, PITMAN, and GARRETT, JJ.
La'Vern Knowles appeals the property partition judgment
and the trial court's denial of her motion for new trial.
For the following reasons, we affirm.
Knowles and Appellee John David Knowles married in 1971 in
Michigan. They later established their matrimonial domicile
in Minden, Louisiana. On June 21, 2011, Mr. Knowles filed a
petition for divorce and incidental matters. He stated that
the parties separated on or about May 18, 2011. On June 22,
2011, Mrs. Knowles filed a petition for divorce.
January 20, 2012, Mr. Knowles filed a motion for judgment of
divorce. His attorney for this motion was Charles Smith of
Smith & Jacobs, APLC. On February 14, 2012, the trial
court granted a judgment of divorce. The minutes show that
Charles Jacobs stood in for his law partner Charles Smith as
Mr. Knowles's attorney in court that day.
January 27, 2014, Mr. Knowles filed a petition for partition
of the former community of acquets and gains and attached a
detailed descriptive list. On April 8, 2014, Mrs. Knowles
filed an affidavit of traversal and/or concurrence of Mr.
Knowles's detailed descriptive list.
Jacobs took office as a district judge on January 1, 2015,
for Division D, to which the consolidated matter at issue was
8, 2016, Judge Jacobs presided over a bench trial on the
community property partition. The parties stipulated that
each would receive his/her General Motors pension plan.
Regarding a piece of immovable property that includes a
church (the "church property") that the parties
owned with an unincorporated religious association, the trial
court found that the religious association owns a one-half
interest in the property, Mr. Knowles owns a one-fourth
interest and Mrs. Knowles owns a one-fourth interest. The
parties stipulated that Mrs. Knowles would purchase Mr.
Knowles's interest in 6598 Highway 159 (the
"matrimonial domicile"); that she would have 60
days to obtain financing; that if she did not obtain
financing within 60 days, Jan Fry would be appointed as real
estate agent to sell the property; and Charles Smith would
conduct the closing. Judge Jacobs left the record open for 15
days so that Mrs. Knowles could submit documentation needed
to calculate her reimbursement claims regarding the
matrimonial domicile for homeowners' insurance premiums
and increased equity. In addition, the parties stipulated
that Mrs. Knowles would purchase Mr. Knowles's interest
in four rental properties-300 N. Middle Landing, 302 N.
Middle Landing, 304 N. Middle Landing and 907 Reynolds Street
(the "four rental properties"). They agreed that if
a closing did not occur within 60 days, Jan Fry would be
appointed as real estate agent to sell the property and
Charles Smith would conduct the closing. The parties further
stipulated that all other rental properties would be sold by
private sale. The trial court then conducted an auction as to
the movable property. The parties did not have a unified
detailed descriptive list, so they first bid on items on Mr.
Knowles's list and then bid on non-duplicate items on
Mrs. Knowles's list. Discussing their credit card bills,
Mrs. Knowles stated that she had a Discover credit card with
a balance of $3, 221.76. Mr. Knowles stated that he had a
Bank of America credit card with a balance between $2, 000
and $3, 000, but did not provide documentation as to an exact
amount. Judge Jacobs found that both parties would receive
reimbursement for one-half of the amount of the balances,
using $2, 000 as the balance on Mr. Knowles's credit
August 16, 2016, Mrs. Knowles filed a motion for recusal and
a motion for new trial. She stated that the law firm that
represented Mr. Knowles during the divorce proceedings was
Smith & Jacobs and that Judge Jacobs was a member of that
firm. She also stated that Judge Jacobs appeared in court on
February 14, 2012, with Mr. Knowles when he obtained his
divorce. She noted that Charles Smith, the closing attorney
the parties had been ordered to use, is Judge Jacobs's
former law partner. She contended that the rulings of Judge
Jacobs were biased or prejudicial toward her and, therefore,
requested a new trial and that a stay be issued.
August 29, 2016, Judge Parker Self granted a stay in the
proceedings. On October 5, 2016, Judge Self presided over a
hearing on the motion for recusal. He noted that he did not
find that Judge Jacobs was biased or impartial, but did find
that Judge Jacobs was an attorney who appeared in court on
behalf of Mr. Knowles. He recused Judge Jacobs and ordered
the clerk of court to reassign the consolidated matters to
another division. He further found that the motion for new
trial was premature because no judgment had been signed. On
November 6, 2016, Judge Self filed a judgment granting Mrs.
Knowles's motion for recusal and ordering that Division D