Anseman prevails on appeal; eligibility to run restored

Photo by Robin May

Vanessa Waguespack Anseman will be on the ballot Saturday in a three-woman race for an opening on the Third Circuit Court of Appeal. The once-beleaguered candidate scored a sweeping victory at the very court she wants to join in Lake Charles Monday morning when Don Richard, an assistant district attorney for the 27th Judicial District, asked the appellate court to dismiss the case. Richard represents the judicial district headquartered in Opelousas where last week District Judge Alonzo Harris ruled Anseman ineligible. Richard’s boss, St. Landry Parish District Attorney Earl Taylor, filed suit against Anseman, arguing she was ineligible.

But on Friday, the Supreme Court of Louisiana weighed in on a key element in the question of Anseman’s eligibility, adjusting in Anseman’s favor a period of time when she was ineligible to practice law because she had not taken requisite continuing legal education courses. The Louisiana Constitution requires candidates for appellate court seats to have been eligible to practice law for 10 years. DA Taylor had argued, and Judge Harris agreed, that Anseman missed the 10-year eligibility mark by nearly 20 days in part to a lapse in those CLE classes. SCOLA’s adjustment Friday added enough time onto Anseman’s eligibility to get her over that 10-year mark. A letter confirming the state Supreme Court’s decision was transmitted Monday morning to the Third Circuit in Lake Charles, hence Richard’s move to dismiss the charge.

Anseman will appear on Saturday’s ballot along with Candyce Perret and Susan Theall in one of the most unusual and hotly contested appellate court races in recent memory.