Marshal Pope pretrial hearing set for Jan. 19

by Leslie Turk

Questions swirl about whether the city marshal has retained a criminal defense attorney.

Unable to continue to bleed his office for his legal fees, Marshal Brian Pope, right, has yet to retain the services of criminal defense attorney Kevin Stockstill, court records indicate.
Photo by Wynce Nolley

Lafayette City Marshal Brian Pope, who this week pleaded not guilty to five felony charges related to his meddling in the sheriff’s race last year, may not yet have a criminal defense attorney. A pretrial hearing in Pope’s case — he faces prosecution for three counts of misuse of public funds for urging voters and two for perjury — is set for Jan. 19.

The criminal allegations against Pope, 51, stem from his year-long public records battle with this newspaper.

Court records show Pope waived an attorney’s presence at his Tuesday arraignment.

Criminal defense attorney Kevin Stockstill, who has been representing Pope since February — long before his August indictment — did not respond to the The IND’s emailed question about whether he has been retained in the criminal case (Stockstill was present for the arraignment, according to a source with knowledge of the proceeding). Prior to his indictment, Pope had paid Stockstill more than $25,000 (through July 11) with funds from the marshal’s office.

Through July, Pope had used the resources of his office to pay more than $120,000 in his own legal fees and costs and owes The IND more than $200,000 in attorney's fees, costs and penalties for refusing to turn over public records.

“I can only confirm that it is my position that a public official who is formally charged in a criminal proceeding must pay his criminal defense lawyer with personal funds,” Stockstill told The IND in an emailed response on Oct. 10. “If the public official is acquitted he may be able to seek reimbursement from the public office but I have not been able to confirm this through legal research at this time.”

A check of court records Friday indicates that a criminal defense attorney still has not officially enrolled in the case.

Pope was given 30 days to file motions and pleadings and was told by the court that he has 30 days to retain counsel or apply for legal representation from the indigent defender’s office.

Fifteenth Judicial District Court Judge David Smith has been assigned the case.

The grand jury investigation into Pope's conduct is ongoing. Read the latest in the public records rigmarole here.