OPELOUSAS — The St. Landry Parish School Board agreed Thursday to hire the Hammonds, Sills, Adkins & Guice Law Firm to serve as general legal counsel on an interim basis.
The board also hired Eunice attorney Brett Garcille for an indefinite time to handle the school district’s sales tax cases filed in state district court.
Both issues are the result of Tuesday’s election of Gerard Caswell, who has served as board attorney for the past 24 years, as a 27th Judicial District Court judge.
Caswell said he will not be able to practice law once he assumes his judicial duties on Dec. 1.
The Division B judicial seat was declared vacant in February when Judge Ellis Daigle announced his retirement. Marian Edwards has served as an interim district judge in Division B since Daigle retired.
“Normally I would not become judge until January, but since a vacancy was declared in Division B, I will be sworn in Dec. 1. Judge Edwards says he wants to go home,” Caswell told the board.
Caswell said hiring both the Hammonds law firm and Garcille will be temporary until the board decides what method it will use to hire a new board attorney.
“This is only a stopgap measure,” Caswell told the board. “You may not want to do anything for a while.”
Board President Josie Frank said she prefers waiting until two new board members elected Tuesday are sworn into office in January.
Caswell said he was being paid a $2,500 per month retainer fee in addition to $125 per hour.
Robert Hammonds told the board Thursday that his firm will charge the district $150 per hour. Hammonds said Courtney Joiner, a member of his law firm, probably will handle most of the board attorney work in St. Landry.
Caswell said there are a number of cases pending in district court that affect the board, so hiring an attorney was imperative.
“Right now, there are about 40 workmen’s compensation cases, 49 involving sales taxes and another 18 other cases that involve accidents or employee issues,” he said.
Caswell also served as a board attorney for the Acadia Parish school district.