Will someone ask for AG opinion on the charter errors?

Photo by Travis Gauthier
Council members turn to City-Parish Attorney Paul Escott

The gist: Even though the council won’t do it, the conventional wisdom is someone will. Or was it that someone’s going to sue? Oh, it’s both.

Get caught up, quickly. LCG attorneys authored a dense legal opinion that an ordinance was the right way to fix errors in the legal descriptions — words describing maps, literally — for the new city council district created by the charter amendments passed last year. “On this one I’m pretty confidant,” City-Parish Attorney Paul Escott said. Some think a second opinion from Attorney General Jeff Landry is needed. In a tense 5-4 vote, the council decided not to ask for one.

“I haven’t decided,” Mayor-President Joel Robideaux responded last night, when asked point blank by Councilman Jay Castille whether he would ask for one should the council not. Well, the council didn’t. And the m-p still hasn’t decided, according to LCG Communications Director Cydra Wingerter. (Once he decides, I’m sure I’ll be the first to know.)

The local legal opinion itself suggests an AG opinion is likely. The reasoning is that plenty of officials have the power to do it, so someone is likely to seek one out. Here are the guidelines for who can seek an AG opinion. So could various state and parish officials. Everyone’s got an opinion. And many have the opinion that we need more opinions.

Why should we?

An earnest reason: It would settle the matter, i.e., it can’t hurt to have a second pair of eyes.

A cynical reason: The AG could contradict the local attorneys and cause more upheaval.

Why shouldn’t we?

An earnest reason: This is a local matter, and the local attorneys think an ordinance is just dandy.

A cynical reason: The AG could contradict the local attorneys and cause more upheaval.

Does it matter? Yes and no. Yes because an AG opinion could settle the issue or stir up chaos. No because the council looks likely to go with an ordinance anyhow.

Everyone’s resigned that a lawsuit is coming. On what grounds, exactly, isn’t clear. Some suggested the council violated federal law by not getting the new districts precleared by the U.S. Department of Justice. But the DOJ removed Louisiana from preclearance requirements in 2013. Once again, that’s really only conventional wisdom. Clearly, the bad blood about the council split isn’t going away just yet.

One Comment

  1. I am confident in theegal opinion, and reasoning behind it, of the legal staff. If someone else lacks that confidence, they have every right to ask for an AG opinion.
    I think we need to correct the inadvertent errors by council ordinance, just as our legal staff suggested, then move forward. If there is to be a challenge to that path, it can be mounted at that time.

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