Third Circuit orders Rubin to allow Durel's appeal

by Leslie Turk

City-Parish President Joey Durel's appeal of Fifteenth Judicial District Judge Ed Rubin's contempt ruling will go forward.

Fifteenth Judicial District Judge Ed Rubin ruled Oct. 31 that City-Parish President Joey Durel be held in contempt of court for removing three Lafayette Housing Authority commissioners on Nov. 19 after Rubin had reinstated them late last year on an earlier dismissal (the city-parish council upheld both removals). The judge ordered Durel to pay a $258 fine and perform eight hours of community service.

In early November, Durel filed with the Third Circuit Court of Appeal a motion to appeal Rubin's ruling; after the board members filed an objection to the appeal and motion to dismiss it, Rubin set a Dec. 22 hearing.

On Thursday the Third Circuit Court of Appeal granted Durel's emergency writ and ordered Rubin to sign Durel's motion for appeal. After the appellate ruling, Rubin canceled the hearing.

John Freeman, Joe Dennis and Leon Simmons were among five LHA board members dismissed in August 2010 by Durel after a scathing independent audit found financial mismanagement that also led to the resignation of the executive director and deputy director. Rubin reinstated the commissioners, but Durel again dismissed them in November 2010 after an alleged open meetings violation. A district judge did not find ample evidence to prosecute the men for the alleged violation, and Rubin again reinstated them, also citing Durel for contempt in ordering the second dismissal.

The ongoing matter of the board members' service appears moot, however, as the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is now running the troubled LHA and acting as its board of commissioners. Despite that action, Freeman, Dennis and Simmons are continuing to meet and conduct LHA business. Read more on the LHA's problems and the dismissal saga here.

Read the Advertiser's Friday story here.