Archive for the ‘State Supreme Court’ Category

Louisiana Atty Gen Sues Vermilion School Board for Open Meetings Violation

03/08/2018

AG’s lawsuit: Vermilion School Board created ‘hostile’ atmosphere at meeting where teacher removed, cuffed

MICHAEL KUNZELMAN, Associated Press

Louisiana’s attorney general sued a local school board Thursday over a meeting disrupted by the video-recorded arrest of a teacher being roughly handcuffed on a hallway floor after she criticized the district superintendent’s pay raise.

Attorney General Jeff Landry’s lawsuit accuses the Vermilion Parish School Board and its members of violating the state’s Open Meetings Law by stifling public debate at the Jan. 8 meeting.

The arrest of a teacher who had just been kicked out of a Vermilion Parish School Board meeting Monday after criticizing a vote to give the su…

The suit asks a state court to nullify all actions taken by the board during that meeting, including its vote to raise Schools Superintendent Jerome Puyau’s salary by roughly $30,000.

Landry’s suit seeks civil penalties against any board members found responsible for violating the Open Meetings Law and says the school system should be reimbursed for any extra money the superintendent received under his raise.

“Every community has a stake in the performance and the governance of its public schools, and the community’s views and thoughts should be taken into account before any action or discussion on an agenda item occurs,” the suit says.

Deputy City Marshal Reggie Hilts arrested middle school English teacher Deyshia Hargrave after escorting her out of the meeting room and handcuffing her on the hallway floor. A viral video of the arrest sparked widespread outrage.

Hilts arrested Hargrave on charges of “remaining after being forbidden” and resisting an officer, but she hasn’t been prosecuted. Ike Funderburk, the prosecutor and city attorney in Abbeville, decided in January not to pursue any criminal charges against her.

Hargrave has said the incident violated her First Amendment right to free speech.

“And I’m appalled at this, and you should be too,” she said in a video posted on the Louisiana Association of Educators’ Facebook page in January.

Landry’s suit says the school board conducted the meeting “in an atmosphere that was hostile toward and contemptuous of” parish residents who attended it.

Video of the meeting shows Hargrave addressed the superintendent directly, asking him how he could accept a raise when teachers haven’t received a pay increase in 10 years.

Anthony Fontana, the school board’s president at the time, then banged his gavel, told her to stop and said her comment wasn’t “germane” to the vote on the contract. Hargrave countered that she was directly addressing the matter.

At that point, according to school board member Kibbie Pillette, Fontana beckoned to the officer, who interrupted Hargrave while she was speaking and ordered her out.

“I’m going,” she said, making her way out. The officer followed her into the hallway, where a camera recorded her on the floor with her hands behind her back as the officer handcuffed her.

“Stop resisting,” the officer said, lifting Hargrave to her feet.

“I am not. You just pushed me to the floor,” Hargrave said.

Hargrave told The Associated Press in January that she blamed Fontana for the incident.

Fontana, who served six terms on the board, announced his resignation less than two weeks after the Jan. 8 meeting. He had announced last year that he wouldn’t run for re-election.

The board voted 5-3 to approve a new three-year contract raising Puyau’s salary to about $140,000 annually, with incentive targets that could add 3 percent a year. Puyau has said the raise matches what school officials in similar jobs make.

The superintendent has said he began receiving hate mail and threatening phone calls as the video spread on the internet. He said the school system offices went into temporary lockdown, and his daughters had to delete threats on their social media.

Puyau told the AP in January that he wasn’t happy with how things played out.

“It was not good in any way,” he said. “We are a good community. It took everybody by surprise. I’m having a hard time with this, but we care about our teachers and our support staff.”

Gov. John Bel Edwards chimed in after the video went viral online. The Democrat, who is married to a teacher and gets support from teachers unions, said he “didn’t see anything that warranted that type of action” and thought it “cast a negative light” on the state.

Here’s the lawsuit.

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Former State Senator Charles Jones a Lawyer Again

01/30/2018

Former State Senator Charles Jones, a Monroe Democrat, was yesterday re-admitted to the Louisiana State Bar and will be allowed to practice law again.

See here the order from the Louisiana Supreme Court.

He will have a three-year period of unsupervised probation.

Jones was convicted in 2010 of filing false tax returns and tax evasion.

He was sentenced in January, 2011 to 27 months in federal prison.

Notable in the court’s order is the restitution repayment schedule for Jones.

…is paying $500 a month to the United States District Court Clerk toward the $305,174.05 in restitution related to his criminal conviction, is paying $1,578 a month to the IRS pursuant to an installment agreement related to his federal tax debt, and is paying $1,080 a month to the Louisiana Department of Revenue (“LDR”) pursuant to an installment agreement related to his state tax debt.

As Jones is in his mid to late 60s, it seems likely the taxpayers will never be fully repaid.

McCallum Unopposed for Circuit Judgeship

01/05/2018

Farmerville attorney and incumbent Third Judicial (Lincoln, Union Parishes) District Court Judge Jay B. McCallum was this afternoon elected without opposition to Louisiana’s Court of Appeals, Second Circuit.

Louisiana’s five circuit courts are intermediate appellate courts, between district courts and the State Supreme Court.

The second circuit covers twenty of Louisiana’s northernmost parishes.

McCallum was a former State Representative, serving from 1992 until his election as District Judge in 2003.

His election will open another vacancy in the 3rd District, which has three judges, Tommy Rogers, McCallum, and Cynthia Woodard.

Last year, Woodard announced her intention to retire.

Qualifying for 2nd Circuit Judgeship This Week

01/02/2018

Qualifying for the Division A, Second District slot of the Louisiana Court of Appeals, Second Circuit begins tomorrow (1/3) and runs through Friday (1/5).

The position has been vacant since the retirement last November of long-time judge Harmon Drew, Jr.

The election is set for Saturday, 3/24/18. Any runoff would be held on Saturday, 4/28/18. The district is composed of nine parishes: Bienville, Bossier, Caldwell, Claiborne, Jackson, Lincoln, Union, Webster and Winn.

Drew Resignation Triggers Judge Election Next Spring

11/20/2017

The recent resignation of Judge Harmon Drew from the Court of Appeals, Second Circuit has precipitated a daisy chain of potential events regarding the judges of the Third Judicial (Lincon, Union Parishes) District.

Drew, whose term expires 12/31/18, instead chose to resign, thus opening up that seat for a spring, 2018 special election, according to a proclamation signed last week by Gov. John Edwards. Drew’s resignation was received by the Secretary of State last month, and was effective 11/3/17.

Drew’s slot (Division A, Second District) is listed on the court’s website as vacant.

The two election dates listed on the proclamation are Saturday, 3/24/18 for the primary, and Saturday, 4/28/18 for the general election. Qualifying dates are Wednesday, 1/3/18 to Friday, 1/5/18. The district is composed of nine parishes: Bienville, Bossier, Caldwell, Claiborne, Jackson, Lincoln, Union, Webster and Winn.

Running for the slot is sitting 3rd JD Judge Jay B. McCallum.

Should he win, that would open up his slot at the district court level.

With the recent retirement announcement of Judge Cynthia Woodard, that means that two of the three judge slots in the 3rd JD would be vacant.

Two local attorneys have told Lincoln Parish News Online (LPNO) that they are running, Bruce Hampton of Farmerville, and Jeffrey Robinson of Ruston. Both are assistant District Attorneys in the 3rd JD.

Others rumored to be interested are Louisiana State Representative Robert Shadoin, Ruston attorney Monique Clement, and Tyler Storms, also of Ruston. Storms was an unsuccessful candidate for judge in the 2014 election that saw Tommy Rogers win the seat.

No date has been set for any district judge election.

Hearing Tomorrow on U. S. District Judge Nominee

10/31/2017

Media Advisory: Cassidy to Introduce Judicial Nominee During Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing

WASHINGTON—Tomorrow, US Senator Bill Cassidy, MD (R-LA) will introduce Judge Terry Doughty during the Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing regarding Doughty’s nomination to serve on the Western Louisiana District.

President Trump nominated Judge Terry Doughty for judgeship on the Western Louisiana District. Judge Doughty currently serves as a Division A Judge of the Fifth Judicial District in Louisiana. Judge Doughty attended Louisiana Tech University (B.S.) and Louisiana State University (J.D.).

WHO:
US Senator Bill Cassidy, MD (R-LA)
Judge Terry Doughty

WHAT:
Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing on Terry Doughty, Judicial Nominee for the Western Louisiana District

WHEN:
Tomorrow
Wednesday, November 1
10:00am ET/9:00am CT

Sumlin Attorney Donated to Lincoln/Union DA Belton

10/30/2017

Monroe attorney LaValle Salomon, who is the attorney of record for former state representative William Sumlin, has over the past three years contributed $3 thousand to Third Judicial (Lincoln, Union Parishes) District Attorney John Belton, campaign records show.

Sumlin, who two years ago was arrested and charged with indecent behavior with a juvenile, and has had his trial date rescheduled many times since his arrest.

Salomon donated $1000 to Belton’s campaign on 7/29/14, about three months prior to his election.

072914.

After Belton’s election, Salomon donated $1000 twice more, on 12/15/14, and on 7/23/15.

12/15/14
7/23/15

Sumlin Trial Date Vanishes?

10/30/2017

The glacial pace of justice in the case of former Louisiana State Representative William Sumlin just got slower.

According to records at the Lincoln Parish Clerk of Court, he is scheduled for trial today (Monday, 10/30) at 9:00 AM in Third Judicial (Lincoln, Union Parishes) District Court in Ruston.

However, during an October 17 hearing on a motion to suppress evidence, that hearing was rescheduled for Tuesday, January 16, at 1:30 PM. Apparently, the state and the defense neglected to set a new trial date.

We will be in court today for the Bonton/Daye/Demps matter, so we will try to find out what’s what with the Sumlin case.

Mays to Stand Trial for Hashway Murder in February

10/27/2017

The long-delayed trial of Cameron Mays for the murder of Cypress Springs resident Dr. Sue Hashway has been set for 9:00 AM, February 26, 2018, Lincoln Parish News Online has learned.

Mays was convicted in April, 2016 for a rape and kidnapping that took place several days before Hashway was found dead in her Paynter Drive home in June of 2012.

Prosecuting the case will be Assistant Attorney General Madeleine Slaughter-Young, a Monroe attorney who recently worked for the Fourth Judicial (Morehouse, Ouachita Parishes) District Attorney’s office. She has civil law experience, and was also a prosecutor for the Orleans Parish DA. In 2015, she was a candidate for Ouachita Parish Clerk of Court.

She is a veteran of the U. S. Army.

LPNO readers will remember that formerly, Assistant AG Mike Ruddick handled the prosecution of Mays for the prior trial. He recently retired.

In this morning’s proceedings at Third Judicial (Lincoln, Union Parishes) District Court in Ruston, the three alleged accomplices of Mays were not in court, but were reset to appear Monday at 9:00 AM. Their trials will be rescheduled to coincide with the February 26 Mays trial, courtroom sources said.

Mays has two hearings prior to trial, a 9:00 AM 11/21/17 status conference, and a 9:00 AM 2/23/18 pretrial conference.

Now it’s DeSoto Parish

10/26/2017

Former Desoto Parish District Attorney’s Office employee indicted for stealing fees

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, October 26, 2017

SHREVEPORT, La. – Acting U.S. Attorney Alexander C. Van Hook announced that a federal grand jury indicted a Converse woman for seven counts of mail fraud.

Melanie Barber, 35, of Converse, La., was employed by the Desoto Parish District Attorney’s office from April 2002 until February 2014. From at least 2004 to 2014, she negotiated money orders made payable to and intended for the Desoto Parish District Attorney’s Office. The money orders were collected by worthless checks and diversion fees but negotiated by Barber at several local banks and retailers for her personal use.

Barber faces up to 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine per count. She also faces forfeiture.

The FBI and the Mansfield Police Department conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Mike O’Mara is prosecuting the case.

An indictment is merely an accusation and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.