The state Supreme Court followed the Third Circuit in dealing another blow to City-Parish President Joey Durel and the C-P council on their decision to remove Lafayette Housing Authority board members.
Joe Dennis, John Freeman and Leon Simmons could soon be back in the sympathetic courtroom of District Judge Ed Rubin. The former Lafayette Housing Authority board of commission members have been fighting for reinstatement more than a year. City-Parish President Joey Durel removed them in August 2010 after a blistering audit of the agency led to an FBI investigation, and Rubin reinstated them Oct. 27, 2010, calling their dismissal arbitrary and capricious because board member Donald Fuselier was allowed to stay on.
(Fuselier subsequently resigned from the board in February of this year.)
Durel, however, again removed Dennis, Freeman and Simmons last November claiming the trio illegally went into executive session (although board members asked the media to leave the room so they could go into executive session, a visiting judge found that they had not violated the law).
After the council upheld their November dismissal, the three went back to Rubin, asking that Durel and the council be held in contempt of court for violating Rubin's original order to reinstate them.
Arguing that the second dismissal was a new removal unrelated to Rubin's order, the administration appealed, and the Third Circuit Court of Appeal ruled against LCG this April, noting it was premature to challenge the contempt issue. Durel et al also sought to have Rubin recused, claiming the order for contempt was secured through ex parte contact with the plaintiffs’ counsel. LCG also alleged bias and prejudice on Rubin's part, noting in court filings some of the judge's comments in a conference call:
a. “I’m irate about this matter. I’ve seen nothing but disregard of my October 27 Order.”
b. “I’m tired of this [expletive deleted].”
c. “I almost held them in contempt last time but Pat Ottinger took responsibility. Now they’re doing it again.”
d. “I’m tired of being in the middle of this [expletive deleted].”
e. “Mr. Hebert, unless the two of you can work something out before Friday, there’s
going to be a hearing on this matter.”
After Rubin's suggestion the parties try to settle, Hebert received an email from the former board members' counsel offering to discuss settlement terms to avoid a March 11, 2011, contempt proceeding, according to court filings. “It is unclear how a settlement between litigants can avoid contempt proceedings, but this email made it clear that both counsel who participated in the conference call with Judge Rubin had the same understanding of comment 4(e) above – a settlement between the parties would avoid the imminent contempt proceedings,” Hebert writes in the filing. “The only possible relief available to Respondents would be a reinstatement to their positions as Commissioners on the Lafayette Housing Authority, and/or payment of some sum of money.”
After the circuit court also declined in April of this year to reverse Rubin’s decision to recuse himself, LCG appealed to the state Supreme Court. On Sept. 16, the higher court declined to hear the case, effectively sending it back to district court.
For now at least, this entire costly legal battle is an exercise in futility. There no longer is a board of commissioners of the LHA. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has taken over the troubled agency's operations, having recently hired Katie Anderson as chief operating officer. When a new board might be seated is anybody's guess.
The circumstances surrounding the death last March while in the backseat of a sheriff’s cruiser of Victor White III, long a source of dispute by White’s family, have earned an investigation by federal officials.
With six of the LPSB’s nine members poised for Pat Cooper’s termination, a request was filed Tuesday for a fast-tracked hearing on the federal lawsuit calling for the disqualification of two board members from voting on the matter due to bias.
Louisiana's Republican Party has filed a complaint against Democratic U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu with the Senate's ethics committee about her use of private chartered planes.
An attorney signs up to run against LPSB's Mark Cockerham, and within a week a lawsuit is filed by a former LPSS employee in an attempt to disqualify him. Coincidence?
The Ragin’ Cajuns got off to a superb start Saturday night, and the Human Jukebox made the soaked season opener even sweeter for the third-largest crowd in Cajun Field history.
The Louisiana health department will follow a federal judge's order and refrain from immediately penalizing doctors who are trying to comply with a new abortion law that requires them to obtain admitting privileges at a local hospital, a spokeswoman said Monday.
While bogged down with qualifying candidates last month, Secretary of State Tom Schedler didn’t lose sight of the true endgame coming in November and December.
Tuesday's Blogs from the Bog!
Stoned driving a concern when pot is legal; Detroit's bankruptcy trial; speed trap scandal in Florida and more national and international news for Tuesday, September 02, 2014.
A federal jury found attorney Daniel Stanford guilty Friday afternoon on eight of 13 counts for his role in the Curious Goods conspiracy.
Lafayette City-Court Judge Francie Bouillion has served on the bench for two decades since winning a special election to replace Judge Kaliste Saloom when he retired in 1994.
The magazine's senior football writer also predicts a break-out year for Saints fourth-year running back Mark Ingram.
Gulf Coast ceremonies marking the ninth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina have begun.
The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries says there is little known about the effects of tiger prawns on indigenous Louisiana shrimp. But, officials say the reports they're seeking will help state biologists monitor the distribution of the prawns and determine the possible presence of spawning populations.
Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh rested his regulars and watched with delight as Ray Rice's backups ground out 214 yards rushing in a 22-13 victory over the New Orleans Saints on Thursday night.
High-profile criminal defense attorney Daniel Stanford awaits his fate in the Curious Goods conspiracy trial.
The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is set to put the kibosh on the legal ownership of monkeys trained to help the disabled, and the agency wants to know what you think.
A federal judge on Thursday asked lawyers battling over Louisiana's new, restrictive abortion law for an agreement that apparently could let clinics stay open — at least for a while — after the law takes effect Sept. 1.
An abortion rights organization wants a federal judge to block enforcement of Louisiana's new abortion law while its lawsuit to overturn the law makes its way through court.
Republican presidential prospects Ted Cruz and Bobby Jindal are planning to speak at an Iowa Christian conservative event in September.
The attention surrounding Victor White III has spiked with the release of last week’s autopsy report, which has raised a number of serious questions about the night of his death and has put the Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office under an increased wave of scrutiny as more national media outlets are jumping on the story, most recently seen on MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show.
A group supporting taxpayer-funded private school tuition vouchers is appealing a federal judge's order that Louisiana must provide regular reports to federal officials on the state's voucher program.
The Discovery Channel has canceled reality TV star Will Hayden's popular "Sons of Guns" show after his arrest on an aggravated rape charge.
The LPSB will finally hear from the attorney it hired to investigate the superintendent at a special meeting Thursday at 4 p.m.
Authorities are investigating a report that a student there warned the principal of impending violence similar to that depicted in the movie "The Purge."