Archive for the ‘State Supreme Court’ Category

Peking Restaurant can open “Immediately”


Ruston’s Peking Restaurant can open “immediately” for business after a stipulated judgement was agreed to this morning in Third Judicial (Lincoln, Union Parishes) District Court in Ruston, between the Louisiana Department of Health (LDH) and the restaurant’s operators.

The agreement specifies some minor alterations to the “sneeze shield” at the buffet table, establishing a one-way traffic pattern around the table, and having restaurant staff fill the plates, instead of the diners.

See here the document.

The agreement was negotiated between LDH attorney Edward Brossettee and Ruston Attorney Aaron Lawrence, who represented the restaurant.

The restaurant, which has been in business for decades in the same location, was shut down last Friday after a temporary restraining order (TRO) was signed by Division C Judge Bruce Hampton. The order was sought by the LDH.

See here the TRO.

The order, which was issued “ex parte” (from one side), may have been in conflict with the exclusion section of the emergency powers act, under which authority Gov. Bel Edwards has been issuing his edicts.

In other words, the restaurant operators had no opportunity to be heard in court before the business was closed, and their ability to earn a living was damaged.

Specifically, the exclusion specifies that “…every person shall have an adequate remedy by due process of law and justice, administered without denial, partiality, or unreasonable delay, for injury to him in his person, property, reputation, or other rights.”

Restaurant Manager Allen Wang told Lincoln Parish News Online that they had not been issued any formal citation by the LDH prior to the restraining order being served last Friday.

It is expected that the restaurant may be open for business as early as this evening.

Local Restaurant has no Attorney to Defend Itself against Looming State Shutdown


A local restaurant recently cited for Covid-19 violations by the Louisiana Deparment of Health has no Attorney of Record to defend itself in an upcoming hearing in Third Judicial (Lincoln, Union Parishes) District Court this Friday. A Lincoln Parish Clerk of Court deputy told Lincoln Parish News Online this morning that the court pleadings on file show no attorney for Peking Restaurant, 1300 North Vienna.

Shreveport attorney Edward Brossette represents the Louisiana Department of Health (LDH).

Last week, the LDH obtained a temporary restraining order against the restaurant, citing violations of Governor Bel Edwards order against self-service buffets. The state is seeking a permanent injunction against the restaurant.

One provision of the Louisiana Homeland Security and Emergency Assistance and Disaster Act – the authority under which Edwards has enacted sweeping emergency orders since March – is this:

LA RS 29:736 Exclusion

D. Nothing in this Chapter shall be interpreted to diminish the rights guaranteed to all persons under the Declaration of Rights of the Louisiana Constitution or the Bill of Rights of the United States Constitution. This Chapter shall not violate Article II (Distribution of Powers), Article III (Legislative Branch), or Article V (Judicial Branch) of the Louisiana Constitution. The courts shall be open, and every person shall have an adequate remedy by due process of law and justice, administered without denial, partiality, or unreasonable delay, for injury to him in his person, property, reputation, or other rights. The orders of all courts shall have their full force and effect. The legislature may call itself into session at any time and shall exercise its powers and duties. Its ability to enact law, appropriate funds, and confirm appointees shall be in full force. The privileges and immunities of legislators shall be respected.

Louisiana’s government-approved media never mention this key exclusion when citing Edwards’ emergency powers. Perhaps the restaurant owner should plead in court that the food buffet is a form of protest, a claim which seems to absolve rioters and looters of any criminal liability nationwide.

Presiding at the 9:00 AM Friday hearing will be Division C Judge Bruce Hampton.

LA Atty Gen: Bel Edwards’ Mask Mandate Unconstitutional


In summary, the three provisions of the executive order – the mask mandate, the 50-person indoor/outdoor gathering limit, and the bar closure – are likely unconstitutional and unenforceable. Although the mask mandate and the 50-person limit may be good recommendations for personal safety, they may not be enforced with financial or criminal penalties. Both businesses acting under color of law as mask police and actual police acting as mask police could face liability if individual civil rights are violated due to the Proclamation.

Jeff Landry
Attorney General

See here the complete opinion.

US Fifth Circuit on Protests & Worship


Yesterday, the U. S. Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit ruled that a lawsuit by Rev. Tony Spell against Louisiana Governor Bel Edwards was no longer relevant, because Edwards’ order prohibiting in-person worship services had expired.

Spell, Pastor of Life Tabernacle Church in Central, LA, refused to abide by the order from the very start of the Covid-19 hysteria, and held in person worship services from then to this day.

Spell has been arrested, briefly jailed, and issued numerous summons. He sued in federal court in early May.

What is noteworthy in the unanimous ruling by the 3-judge panel is the concurring opinion written by James Ho.

He addresses the issue of how protests and worship services have been treated differently by authorities.

At the outset of the pandemic, public officials declared that the only way to prevent the spread of the virus was for everyone to stay home and away from each other. They ordered citizens to cease all public activities to the maximum possible extent—even the right to assemble to worship or to protest.

But circumstances have changed. In recent weeks, officials have not only tolerated protests—they have encouraged them as necessary and important expressions of outrage over abuses of government power.

It is common knowledge, and easily proved, that protestors do not comply with social distancing requirements. But instead of enforcing the Governor’s orders, officials are encouraging the protests — out of an admirable, if belated, respect for First Amendment rights. The Governor himself commended citizens for “appropriately expressing their concerns and exercising their First Amendment Rights.” If protests are exempt from social distancing requirements, then worship must be too.

None of this is to say that Pastor Spell and his parishioners should ignore the advice of health experts. But the same is true for the protestors. No doubt many other Louisianans would have protested too, but for the advice of health experts. The point here is that state and local officials gave them the choice. Those officials took no action when protestors chose to ignore health experts and violate social distancing rules. And that forbearance has consequences.

The First Amendment does not allow our leaders to decide which rights to honor and which to ignore. In these troubled times, nothing should unify the American people more than the principle that freedom for me, but not for thee, has no place under our Constitution.

See here the complete ruling.


Supreme Court Race Gets Active


A candidate for the Louisiana Supreme Court, Fourth District has begun extensive television advertising for the November 3 election.

Shannon Gremillion, a judge on the Court of Appeals, Third Circuit, based in Lake Charles, has also raised over $300 thousand to fund his campaign.

See here his campaign finance report.

The contributions, many from law firms, are mostly from the Alexandria and Lake Charles areas.

The Supreme Court’s Fourth District consists of the following parishes: Bienville, Caldwell, Catahoula, Concordia, Claiborne, East Carroll, Franklin, Grant, Jackson, LaSalle, Lincoln, Madison, Morehouse, Ouachita, Rapides, Richland, Tensas, Union, West Carroll and Winn.

Jay McCallum, a judge on Shreveport-based Court of Appeals, Second Circuit is the other announced candidate for the supreme court seat.

McCallum, prior to his election in 2018 to the circuit court, was a judge on the Third Judicial (Lincoln, Union Parishes) District Court. Prior to that, he was a state representative.

McCallum has raised little money for his campaign, according to his campaign finance report. He shows as of 5/26/20 having raised about $3.6 thousand.

McCallum is listed on Ballotpedia as independent, while Gremillion’s Ballotpedia page shows that he switched parties from Democrat to Republican earlier this year.

More “Essential Activity” in NOLA, Baton Rouge


LSU president meets with protesters gathered on campus, offers support

Chick-fil-A on Siegen Lane closes as protesters gather nearby

Protesters make it onto highway in New Orleans for the second straight night

Blocking Interstate 10 Traffic in NOLA Deemed “Essential”


New Orleans protesters take over I-10, stopping traffic for two hours

New Orleans, La. (WGNO) –

On Tuesday (June 2), a group of hundreds marched from Duncan Plaza to the Tulane Avenue on- ramp to I-10, and proceeded to walk on the interstate as far as the Esplanade Avenue exit to the east.

At about 8:30 pm, the NOPD tweeted that drivers should avoid the area, but allowed the protesters to march. Some stayed on one side of the interstate, while others crossed over the concrete median, blocking traffic in both directions.

At about 9 pm, the protesters were met by a line of law enforcement, including state troopers in regular uniforms, and NOPD officers, some carrying shields and some in tactical gear.

The protesters shouted slogans at the officers for about an hour, before walking down the interstate off-ramps. There were no reports of any violence or destruction of property, and NOPD Superintendent Sheaun Ferguson wants to keep it that way.

Does This Mean It’s Now OK to Attend Church, Eat in Restaurants, Etc?


Louisiana U.S. Attorneys Working with Federal, State, and Local Law Enforcement Partners to Ensure Peaceful Protests


United States Attorneys David C. Joseph, Western District of Louisiana, Brandon J. Fremin, Middle District of Louisiana, and Peter G. Strasser, Eastern District of Louisiana, jointly announced today that the U.S. Attorney’s Offices in Louisiana are joining federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies in their efforts to preserve Louisiana citizens’ rights to free speech and assembly while protecting our communities from violence and destruction.

“The demonstrations in Louisiana have been peaceful and I applaud Louisianians for exercising their First Amendment rights in a non-violent manner,” said U.S. Attorney David C. Joseph.

“Our Constitutional right to peacefully protest is a time-honored bedrock principle upon which our great nation was founded, and it should be protected,” said U.S. Attorney Fremin.

“Our office remains dedicated to protecting our citizens and upholding their Constitutional rights,” said U.S. Attorney Strasser. “The First Amendment gives every citizen the right to assemble and protest peacefully. Through the collaborative efforts of our local, state, federal and community partners, we will continue both to ensure our citizen’s lawful right of self-expression and work with our first responders to maintain civility.”

Judge’s Pay Nipped by Economic Lockdown


Gov Bel Edwards economic lockdown of Louisiana has resulted in a pay cut, if ever so slight, for Louisiana’s judges.

The Ouachita Citizen’s Zach Parker wrote yesterday that a month ago judges were sent a letter from Supreme Court Justice James Genovese saying that their $900 monthly supplemental pay would be cut to $400/month.

That supplemental pay is funded through filing fees collected by clerks of court.

The base pay of judges is about $152 thousand/year, so the $500/month cut is only about 4%.

Last month we reported on the state’s indigent defenders having to furlough attorneys because of funding shortfalls.

See here Parker’s news story (subscription required).

Louisiana Judge’s Finances Disclosed


Last week the Louisiana Supreme Court made public for the first time the financial disclosure documents of all of Louisiana’s judges. The reports are for the 2018 calendar year.

Here are the judges that Lincoln Parish voters have had a say in electing.

2nd Circuit Court of Appeal – Jay B. McCallum
2nd Circuit Court of Appeal – Jeffrey S. Cox

Third Judicial District Court – Bruce E. Hampton
Third Judicial District Court – Jeffrey L. Robinson
Third Judicial District Court – Thomas W. Rogers

Ruston City Court – Danny W. Tatum

See here the complete list of all Louisiana judges.