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Lafayette City Marshal Brian Pope leaves the Lafayette Parish Correctional Center after being booked on felony counts of perjury and using public funds to influence voters Thursday, August 18, 2016, in Lafayette, La.

Advocate photo by Leslie Westbrook

City Marshal Brian Pope’s deleted emails can be used as evidence in the criminal case against him, a Lafayette Parish judge ruled on Thursday.

Judge David Smith of the 15th Judicial District also ordered District Attorney Keith Stutes and two assistant attorneys to disclose evidence of any social or political relationships between themselves and Sheriff Mark Garber.

Pope faces seven counts — five for malfeasance, two for perjury — stemming in part from his efforts to help Garber’s opponent in the 2015 sheriff’s election.

Pope’s attorneys sought the relationship disclosures in an effort to disqualify Stutes’ office from prosecuting the case. Garber was an assistant district attorney prior to his successful run for sheriff in 2015.

The emails that will be allowed into evidence show Pope’s collaboration with the campaign of Scott Police Chief Chad Leger on a news conference at which Pope accused of Garber of encouraging illegal immigration. They were previously released as part of The Independent newspaper’s lawsuit against Pope, whose refusal to turn over the emails spurred the lawsuit.

The malfeasance charges against Pope include using public employees from his office and public property for the news conference and for his own political campaign, as well as using public funds to pay an attorney to get Garber’s divorce records unsealed.

The perjury charges stem from sworn testimony in which Pope denied his illegal use of a third-party email distributor as well as the extent of his involvement with the Leger campaign.

Pope’s attorneys initially sought evidence from all district attorney employees showing any relationship between Stutes and the prosecutors trying Pope’s case, Alan Haney and Daniel Landry.

Smith ruled that request, which centered on photographs, recordings and other depictions of the individuals in question, was too broad. But he required Stutes, Haney and Landry to individually disclose social, sporting and political events they attended where Garber was present, to the best of their knowledge, as well as any support they provided to Garber’s political campaign.

The trial is scheduled for Feb. 20. 

Meanwhile, petitioners aiming to recall Pope face a Monday deadline to gather the 27,500 signatures needed to put a recall before voters. The campaign still needed 3,800 signatures as of Thursday afternoon, Aimee Robinson, chairwoman of the campaign, said in an email.

Follow Ben Myers on Twitter, @blevimyers.