His sentencing delayed, Pope due back in court Thursday

Pope's attorneys, Brett Grayson, left, and John McLindon, with the embattled city marshal and his wife outside of the Lafayette Parish Courthouse after his October 2018 conviction. Photo by Travis Gauthier

The gist: District Judge David Smith granted suspended City Marshal Brian Pope’s request for a delay in his sentencing until a full transcript of the marshal’s 2018 trial can be obtained. The embattled marshal returns to court Thursday to face 17 more felony charges.

The transcript is needed, Pope’s attorneys argue, for the judge to rule on their motion to throw out four felony convictions handed down by a Lafayette jury in October — all stemming from a public records battle with the now-shuttered Independent newspaper.

“Lafayette City Marshal Brian Pope wants his perjury and malfeasance convictions thrown out because he doesn’t understand how email works and didn’t read his legal bills before paying them, his attorneys say.” The too-good-to-not-repeat lede on The Daily Advertiser’s story about Pope’s motion for acquittal.

“They gave you what they wanted you to see,” Assistant District Attorney Alan Haney argued Wednesday. “We don’t need a transcript.”

Smith nonetheless reset the hearing on the motion and sentencing for June 19. Pope’s attorneys had previously requested only a partial transcript to prepare the motion, a first step toward a likely appeal of the jury verdict. Pope was immediately suspended from office upon his conviction and has been testing the waters for a potential run for sheriff.

Pope is due back in court Thursday, this time for a pre-trial hearing before District Judge Patrick Michot, where he will be facing 17 new counts of malfeasance for pocketing city court fees that should have gone to his office. He also will have to address state ethics charges related to those felony charges. Pope was indicted yet again last week on unrelated counts of malfeasance for seeking reimbursement from LCG for travel expenses paid by his office and then keeping the money for himself. Those charges sent him back through the booking process at LPCC for the seventh time since April 2016. Judge Marilyn Castle was assigned that case, and court records show Pope doesn’t yet have legal representation for any of the new charges.

Pope also faces state and federal lawsuits alleging retaliation against one of the organizers of a failed effort to recall him from office.

Read more about the early signs of Pope’s ethical and legal troubles in this KATC timeline.