Hearing delayed on public records case involving Lafayette City Marshal _lowres

Brian Pope

Lafayette City Marshal Brian Pope’s pending house arrest on a contempt of court conviction is headed to the state Supreme Court.

Three judges with the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeal this week denied Pope’s request for a review of the seven-day sentence, handed down in The Independent’s public records lawsuit against him.

Pope’s attorney, Kevin Stockstill, said Thursday he’ll file a request to have the state Supreme Court weigh in on the matter.

The 3rd Circuit Court said 15th Judicial District Judge Jules Edwards made no error in his ruling and found Pope “intentionally and purposefully failed to deliver the requested public records,” despite Edwards’ orders to do so and without a “justifiable excuse.”

The Independent sought certain emails to and from Pope’s official account that showed he used his office for political purposes during the Lafayette Parish sheriff election. The relevant emails were deleted from Pope’s account before he provided a court-ordered response to the request.

Emails produced through a parallel request to Lafayette Consolidated Government, which operates Pope’s email account and its backup servers, show the marshal colluded with Scott Police Chief Chad Leger’s failed campaign for sheriff in planning a news conference attacking Leger’s opponent, now Sheriff-elect Mark Garber.

Edwards ruled in January that Pope failed to fulfill the court order and imposed $100-a-day penalties, court costs and attorney fees against him

Stockstill argued that penalty, paired with the March house arrest sentence on contempt of court, constitute double jeopardy.

The appellate court, however, said that defense does not apply in this case because the penalties are a civil, not a criminal, matter.

“We disagree,” Stockstill said.

Pope also has appealed Edwards’ January ruling that the marshal did not fulfill the court order to provide the records.

Gary McGoffin, attorney for The Independent, said Thursday the next step in the appeal on the January ruling is for the 3rd Circuit Court to order oral arguments.

The next Lafayette Parish court date in the case is July 25, when the district court will consider The Independent’s motions to amend their original lawsuit and compel Pope to produce additional records the publication has sought this year.

The publication is seeking full copies of legal invoices billed to Pope during the election that, unlike copies previously released, have not had portions blacked out.

Follow Lanie Lee Cook on Twitter, @lanieleecook, or contact her by phone at (337) 534-0825.