3rd Circuit rejects Marshal Pope

by Walter Pierce

The 3rd Circuit Court of Appeal has denied a writ filed by City Marshal Brian Pope seeking a review of the judgment handed down against him by District Court Judge Jules Edwards on March 24. Pope has 30 days from the June 21 date of the appeals court’s rejection to file a writ with the Louisiana Supreme Court.

On March 24 Edwards found Pope in constructive contempt of court for his long-running refusal to turn over public records to The Independent and imposed on Pope seven days home confinement, 173 hours of community service, nearly five years probation and ordered him to pay the newspaper roughly $100,000 in attorney's fees and penalties.

The 15th Judicial District Attorney's office is currently investigating the marshal's conduct during the lengthy public records battle with The IND; criminal charges ranging from perjury to malfeasance to theft of public goods are expected by many within the Lafayette legal community sometime this summer.

The appeals court’s judgment is short but pointed:

Considered in a light most favorable to the Plaintiff in this case, the testimony and documentary evidence established beyond a reasonable doubt that Defendant intentionally and purposefully failed to deliver the requested public records despite the trial court’s December 14, 2015 order to do so. Nor did Defendant establish a justifiable excuse as to why the documents could not be provided. Furthermore, the monetary fine to paid to Plaintiff, imposed on Defendant at the January 4, 2016 hearing, was civil in nature and, thus, did not invoke the prohibition against double jeopardy. ...Accordingly, there was no error in the trial court’s ruling.

For more on the criminal investigation into Pope as well as links to past reporting in timeline form by this newspaper, click here.