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UPDATE: Trial in LCG charter lawsuit set for May

Posted: 3:10 PM, Apr 10, 2019
Updated: 2019-06-25 12:35:37-04
Interim Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin
Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin. Photo courtesy: The Advocate / Travis Spradling

A hearing scheduled for tomorrow in the suit against LCG over the charter revision has been cancelled, according to the Office of the Attorney General.

Instead, a trial has been set for May 8, with pretrial statements due by April 29.

KATC reported yesterday that Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin will intervene in the lawsuit against Lafayette Consolidated Government and its decision to amend its new home rule charter via ordinance rather than placing it back on the ballot. Attorney General Jeff Landry will represent Ardoin in the litigation.

The lawsuit is for injunctive relief and was filed by Keith Kishbaugh against The City of Lafayette Government, Lafayette Parish Government, and Lafayette City-Parish Consolidated Government.

KATC spoke to Secretary of State Press Secretary Tyler Brey who confirmed that Ardoin is intervening in the lawsuit to ask the court to address additional issues not raised by Kishbaugh.

According to Brey, the lawsuit as it stands only seeks for a judge to throw out the ordinance passed by the city-parish council, however he says that doesn’t provide the clarity that his office needs to continue with the process.

“If the judge were to throw the ordinance out then we would still be back at square one with about 330 people without districts,” said Brey. “So what we wanted to do was intervene to take it a step further and to get more solid next steps to figure out how our office could proceed with qualifying and elections this fall.”

Brey also said that the secretary of state’s office approached the attorney general’s office about representing them in the litigation.

Attorney General Jeff Landry
Attorney General Jeff Landry

This was further confirmed by an email sent to KATC from Jacques Ambers, press secretary for the Office of Attorney General Jeff Landry, which stated, “The Secretary of State has decided to intervene in the case and has requested the Attorney General’s office represent him in the matter. AG Landry has agreed to do so.”

“We don’t want this to be a big political fight,” said Brey. “Our office isn’t in this for whether or not Lafayette should or shouldn’t deconsolidate. Secretary Ardoin’s only concern is that everybody in the parish, whether it be the parish council or city council, has representation. And right now, there are people who are left out and that’s what we want to get fixed.”

In March, the Lafayette City-Parish Council voted to side with LCG attorneys and amend council districts by ordinance . At issue are some clerical errors that were made in listing voting precincts in new districts approved by voters back in December, when they voted to separate the city and parish councils again.

The council made their decision despite a legal opinion from Landry, which was requested by state Rep. Bob Hensgens, R-Abbeville, that states that voters must approve any correction of errors in voting precincts in the charter amendment approved by voters in December.

After the council made their decision on the issue, Landry further clarified his previous opinion and suggested that the council’s decision might violate the Louisiana Constitution.

Read Ardoin’s motion to intervene below.

LCG Charter Lawsuit SOS AG Petition for Intervention 2019 04 10 094006 (Text)