The Baton Rouge City Court judges recently appointed their newest city court clerk and judicial administrator Lynn Maloy, who will replace Lon Norris when he retires Aug. 22.
But the otherwise routine appointment was perceived as a slap in the face to at least one Metro Council member, who has been working to turn the administrative position into an elected office.
In recent months, the Metro Council unanimously passed a resolution asking the city court judges to hold off on appointing Norris’s replacement until they could seek a change in the plan of government to make the position elected.
But two weeks ago, the City Court judges voted 3 to 2 to appoint Maloy, who is currently the deputy judicial administrator. Judges Suzan Ponder, Laura Prosser and Alex “Brick” Wall voted in favor of appointing Maloy. Judges Yvette Alexander and Kelli Terrell Temple either voted in opposition or abstained.
“It shows total disrespect for the Metro Council,” said Councilwoman C. Denise Marcelle, who is sponsoring the changes to the position. “We are the budgeting authority for the city court. I guess they forgot that.”
She said the city court judges made their appointment without even reaching out to the Metro Council to explain why they would defy their request.
The resolution is non-binding. But it was a message from the Metro Council to the city court judges.
“At least call us over there and ask for the information,” Marcelle said. ‘Don’t just go ahead and disregard what the Metro Council has said to them unanimously.”
Norris, on behalf of Chief Judge Suzan Ponder, said that the court has previously filled the vacancy “as soon as practical in order that the judicial and clerk of court operations could continue without prolonged interruption.”
“This practice was followed in this instance in accordance with the existing provisions of the Plan of Government which enumerate the structure and operations of City Court,” he said.
The Metro Council will move forward with a vote scheduled for Aug. 26 to ask voters to change the plan of government. Ultimately, voters would decide whether to make the position elected.
Marcelle said the city court judges’ appointment of Maloy now puts her in a position where she could lose her job if the job is transformed into an elected position.
Marcelle noted that the Clerk of Court for the 19th Judicial District Court is an elected position — currently held by Doug Welborn, so the City Court Clerk of Court position should be as well.
Across the state, parish clerks of court are typically elected. But city court administrators/clerk of courts are typically appointed.