BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — An attorney for a Louisiana sheriff charged with directing officers to assault inmates claims federal court officials broke the rules by switching judges for his case without explanation.

Earlier this year, an unusual interruption abruptly ended a routine court hearing on the sheriff's case. Iberia Parish Sheriff Louis Ackal and 11 subordinates have been charged in connection with the alleged beatings of several inmates.

U.S. District Judge Patricia Minaldi originally was assigned to preside over the cases. But those cases were reassigned to a different federal judge four days after a prosecutor asked her to prematurely end the hearing where she was accepting a deputy's guilty plea.

After a private discussion with attorneys, Minaldi adjourned the hearing without disclosing a reason. There was also no reason given for the cases being reassigned.


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