Baton Rouge-based federal judge, Frank Polozola, dies at 71
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — U.S. District Judge Frank Polozola, the federal judge who presided over the trial that sent former Gov. Edwin Edwards to prison for corruption charges, has died. He was 71.
Polozola died late Sunday, according to Judge Brian Jackson, chief judge for the Baton Rouge-based Middle District.
"I don't know the immediate cause of death, but he had been battling cancer for many years, so I think it's fair to say that his death is at least in part attributable to the cancer," Jackson said in an interview Monday.
Polozola worked for the court for four decades, starting as a law clerk and then working as a magistrate, with a short stint in a private law practice in between the two jobs. He was nominated to the bench by President Jimmy Carter in 1980 and served as chief judge from 1998 to 2005.
"He was an extraordinary jurist. He was devoted to the rule of law. He took very seriously his obligations under the constitution," Jackson said. "On a personal level, he was a very caring and compassionate man. I think it's fair to say that here at the courthouse he was a father figure to all, and that we will all miss him greatly."
He had been on senior status since 2007, presiding over a reduced docket of cases.
Polozola oversaw Edwards' 2000 federal racketeering trial, in which the four-time former governor was convicted in a bribery and extortion scheme to rig riverboat casino licenses.
Edwards served eight years in prison for the conviction and repeatedly accused Polozola of mismanaging the trial and improperly handling jurors. But those arguments weren't successful in overturning Edwards' conviction.
Funeral arrangements for Polozola were pending.