NEW ORLEANS – In what has become a bizarre sideshow to this city's mayor's race, one of the candidates has been sentenced to three days in jail for contempt of court.
Kimberly Williamson Butler, a criminal court clerk who announced her candidacy on Friday, had defied a court order to relinquish her authority over the cleanup of a hurricane-flooded court evidence room after the state Supreme Court appointed an outside judge to the task.
Butler dropped out of sight last week after being threatened with arrest, but Calvin Johnson, chief judge for state district criminal court in New Orleans, canceled the arrest warrant Friday after Butler agreed to appear in court.
Butler then announced she would run for mayor, making her one of 23 people challenging Mayor Ray Nagin in the April 22 election.
In court Monday, Butler defiantly defended her actions, saying she had made progress in getting the evidence room cleaned up, and her attorney said the outside judge had been a disruptive force in Butler's office.
However, Johnson and eight other judges taking part in Monday's hearing were unimpressed and sent her to jail.
Judge Julien Parker labeled Butler's mayoral run a publicity stunt, saying she "thumbed her nose" at the courts.
Butler's attorney, Yancy Carter, did not comment after the hearing.
Butler had a brush with controversy in 2004, when her office failed to deliver voting machines on time to about 90 precincts. The late delivery affected an estimated 25 percent of the city's voters, leading to several lawsuits and a judge's ruling that one election for a judgeship had to be held a second time.