Confusion won the day at Pope resentencing

Shackled and handcuffed, suspended Lafayette City Marshal Brian Pope was escorted to the parish jail for the 10th time since 2016. Photo courtesy The Acadiana Advocate

The gist: There’s still zero clarity on whether suspended Lafayette city marshal/convicted felon Brian Pope will serve his time behind bars. 

Pope’s attorney threw a curve ball. Court observers tell The Current an unexpected argument by Pope’s attorney, Brett Grayson, that the marshal should get credit for time served over the last year under GPS monitoring and a curfew nearly swayed 15th Judicial District Judge David Smith. Smith — in an markedly odd resolution — punted the decision to Sheriff Mark Garber (keep in mind one of Pope’s three malfeasance convictions was for using his office’s resources to unseal Garber’s divorce). 

The DA’s office was having none of it. Assistant District Attorney Alan Haney (with both of his bosses, District Attorney Keith Stutes and First ADA Danny Landry in the courtroom), jumped to remind the judge that the ankle monitor and curfew imposed on Pope were the bond restrictions that allowed him to stay out of jail while he appealed his conviction — conditions which Smith himself set in June 2019. 

“The monitoring was a condition of Pope’s bond,” the sheriff’s spokesman, Lt. John Mowell, affirms to The Current. 

Thursday was to clarify sentencing. Pope was back in the courtroom this week for resentencing after The Third Circuit Court of Appeal tossed the matter back to Smith to clarify the punishment (the appeals court upheld the conviction and the Louisiana Supreme Court refused to hear the case). Smith resentenced him to three years in jail for each of the three malfeasance convictions with all but one year suspended. A shackled and cuffed Pope was then escorted out of court by sheriff’s deputies to be booked into the Lafayette Parish Correctional Center for the tenth! time since April 2016, when he was convicted of criminal contempt of court in a public records case stemming from his attempts to smear Garber in a 2015 press conference at the marshal’s office. 

Pope faces unrelated malfeasance charges. Disqualified from seeking re-election (he is technically still the marshal, though he has been suspended since his 2018 convictions and isn’t being paid), Pope has been charged with 17 counts of malfeasance for supplementing his income with city court fees and fines that should have gone to support the operations of the marshal’s office (and related ethics charges), along with two counts of malfeasance for pocketing travel reimbursements paid for by his office. 

What will Garber do? Pope bonded out Thursday and was given until Nov. 4 to get his affairs in order before reporting back to LPCC on Nov. 4. It remains unknown whether Garber admits Pope into a diversion program, keeps him at LPCC or transfers him to another jail. “We will execute the orders of the court,” Mowell says.