A May 3rd motion by Monroe attorney Louis Scott to quash several 4/11/11 criminal investigation subpoenas served on the Town of Jonesboro’s controversial mayor Leslie Thompson may be frivolous, as defined by the Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board’s (LADB) Rules of Professional Conduct.
Scott also represents the town, the mayor and three of the town’s five aldermen in the civil case Essmeier v Jonesboro. This motion would appear to involve him as a defense attorney in the ongoing criminal investigation now being conducted by the Jackson Parish Sheriff’s Office (JPSO).
See the motion here.
The motion claims:
A. The Clerk of Court does not have the authority to issue subpoenas in this case.
B. The subpoena or an attached motion must set forth the “reasonable grounds” for the subpoena.
C. There must be some hearing or trial set before the Clerk of Court can issue a subpoena without a judge.
D. The Clerk of Court does not have the power to sign a subpoena to appear before the sheriff and produce items.
Scott appears to claim that the subpoenas were issued by the Jackson Parish Clerk of Court. However, the documents clearly note at the top of each page that the Second Judicial (Bienville, Claiborne, Jackson parishes) District Attorney is applying for the subpoenas.
All were signed by Assistant District Attorney Gary Nunn.
See here the LADB’s RULE 3.1. MERITORIOUS CLAIMS AND CONTENTIONS
A lawyer shall not bring or defend a proceeding, or assert or controvert an issue therein, unless there is a basis in law and fact for doing so that is not frivolous, which includes a good faith argument for an extension, modification or reversal of existing law.
An interesting twist that the District Attorney will have to argue against Scott and the motion if/when ever it is ruled upon.
Scott’s prior issues with the Disciplinary Board
Scott has had issues with the LADB prior to this case. In 2010, he was censured by the Louisiana State Supreme Court for violation of the following rules:
- Rule 1.2 – scope of the representation
- Rule 1.3 – failure to act with reasonable diligence and promptness in representing a client
- Rule 1.4 – failure to communicate with a client
- Rule 3.2 – failure to make reasonable efforts to expedite
- Rule – 8.4(a) – violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct
See the Louisiana Supreme Court’s ruling here.
The Subpoenaed Documents Are Public Records
Further, it appears that the subpoenaed financial documents – at least those that are in the custody of the town – are public records, as defined by Louisiana Law.
A.(1) As used in this Chapter, the phrase “public body” means any branch, department, office, agency, board, commission, district, governing authority, political subdivision, or any committee, subcommittee, advisory board, or task force thereof, or any other instrumentality of state, parish, or municipal government, including a public or quasi-public nonprofit corporation designated as an entity to perform a governmental or proprietary function.
(2)(a) All books, records, writings, accounts, letters and letter books, maps, drawings, photographs, cards, tapes, recordings, memoranda, and papers, and all copies, duplicates, photographs, including microfilm, or other reproductions thereof, or any other documentary materials, regardless of physical form or characteristics, including information contained in electronic data processing equipment, having been used, being in use, or prepared, possessed, or retained for use in the conduct, transaction, or performance of any business, transaction, work, duty, or function which was conducted, transacted, or performed by or under the authority of the constitution or laws of this state, or by or under the authority of any ordinance, regulation, mandate, or order of any public body or concerning the receipt or payment of any money received or paid by or under the authority of the constitution or the laws of this state, are “public records”, except as otherwise provided in this Chapter or the Constitution of Louisiana.
As such, anyone over the age of majority may view and copy the documents.
A. Providing access to public records is a responsibility and duty of the appointive or elective office of a custodian and his employees.
B.(1) Except as otherwise provided in this Chapter or as otherwise specifically provided by law, and in accordance with the provisions of this Chapter, any person of the age of majority may inspect, copy, or reproduce any public record.
(2) Except as otherwise provided in this Chapter or as otherwise specifically provided by law, and in accordance with the provisions of this Chapter, any person may obtain a copy or reproduction of any public record.