NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Justice Department prosecutors say a Louisiana sheriff isn't entitled to have his criminal case reassigned to the federal judge who was mysteriously pulled off the high-profile case without explanation.

A court filing Wednesday by prosecutors doesn't shed any light on why U.S. District Judge Patricia Minaldi was removed from the case against Iberia Parish Sheriff Louis Ackal.

Chief Judge Dee Drell, of the Western District of Louisiana, didn't explain in his one-page order why he reassigned the cases against Ackal and several subordinates to another judge in March.

Ackal's attorney, John McLindon, has asked the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to transfer the case back to Minaldi. McLindon argues the judge's removal violated court rules.

The 5th Circuit also invited Drell to respond to Ackal's petition by Thursday.

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