Lincoln Parish Sheriff, Assistant DA, LPPJ Plot Illegal “Walking Quorum” Meeting for Tax Pitch

Lincoln Parish Sheriff Mike Stone, Third Judicial (Lincoln, Union parishes) Assistant District Attorney Andy Shealy, and members of the Lincoln Parish Police Jury (LPPJ) have plotted to violate the State of Louisiana’s Open Meetings Law – the law that prohibits meetings of public bodies in secret – and have organized what is known as a “walking quorum” meeting to discuss a new tax.

A walking quorum is a series of gatherings among separate groups of members of a governmental body, each less than quorum size, who agree, tacitly or explicitly, to act uniformly in sufficient number to reach a quorum.

According to an email obtained by Lincoln Parish News Online (LPNO), the jurors are set to meet with Stone and Shealy in groups of four “to avoid a quorum.” The meetings are scheduled throughout the day today and reportedly are to discuss a new tax to fund operation of the sheriff’s “Taj Mahal” public safety complex.

See here the email.

The action violates this provision:

LA RS 42:14 – Meetings of public bodies to be open to the public

A. Every meeting of any public body shall be open to the public unless closed pursuant to R.S. 42:16, 17, or 18.

B. Each public body shall be prohibited from utilizing any manner of proxy voting procedure, secret balloting, or any other means to circumvent the intent of this Chapter.

LA RS 42:13 – Definitions

A. For the purposes of this Chapter:

(1) “Meeting” means the convening of a quorum of a public body to deliberate or act on a matter over which the public body has supervision, control, jurisdiction, or advisory power. It shall also mean the convening of a quorum of a public body by the public body or by another public official to receive information regarding a matter over which the public body has supervision, control, jurisdiction, or advisory power.

Additionally, Louisiana Attorney General’s Opinion 90-0349 says:

…avoid the use of the sanction of this opinion to engage in the so-called “walking quorum.” In this artifice, different committee members leave the meeting and different members enter the meeting so that while an actual quorum is never physically present an actual quorum during the course of the meeting participates in the discussion.

…please advise them that the abuse of the practice of a “walking quorum” is subject to the injunctive remedy of R.S. 42:11A(2).

It is axiomatic to the law of equity, and recognized by the jurisprudence of Louisiana, that lawful means cannot be used to achieve an
unlawful purpose.

We will be at the courthouse today to sit in on these meetings, if they occur.

One Response to “Lincoln Parish Sheriff, Assistant DA, LPPJ Plot Illegal “Walking Quorum” Meeting for Tax Pitch”

  1. This Way to the Secret Meeting | Tom Roberson Says:

    […] State of Louisiana explicitly forbids publicly elected officials from meeting in secret to discuss public business. This law is intended […]

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