Former East Baton Rouge Parish Attorney Mary Roper is not done with her former employers on the Metro Council, with whom she publicly feuded for more than four months.
She’s appealing one lawsuit against the council, is considering filing a defamation lawsuit against some council members and has inundated parish officials with numerous public records requests.
Roper was fired from her post in September as the top attorney for the city-parish after a long and ugly battle with a faction of Metro Council members — a battle that culminated with Roper filing a lawsuit against the council challenging its ability to remove her.
District Court Judge Michael Caldwell ruled against Roper, who asked the court to declare that she was not an at-will employee and that the council needed to demonstrate cause in order to fire her.
On Thursday, Roper filed a motion to appeal the ruling to the 1st Circuit. She is not seeking to be reinstated, nor is she seeking damages, said one of her attorneys, Grant Guillot.
“We’re not asking for them to hold off on hiring a new parish attorney,” he said. “What’s done is done. That’s not what the end game is here.”
Guillot said they are seeking an appeal on principle, because they disagree with Caldwell’s ruling and want a clarification that would be on record for other people who will hold the office moving forward.
He said Roper also plans on filing a separate defamation lawsuit against the Metro Council for statements members made about her during the course of her termination proceedings.
“There were things said about her in a very public forum that were not accurate and that were never substantiated,” Guillot said. “That’s one issue. And then there’s the issue of her asking for all these documents that she hasn’t received.”
Roper has been inundating staff and council members with records requests, many of which have not been fulfilled yet over questions about whether the records should be considered public information.
Roper has submitted several requests for council member communications. A few days after she was fired, she sent a public records request directly to Information Services Director Eric Romero, asking for a copy of every email she sent or received from when she was hired in October 1993 until the present.
The request generated roughly 90,000 documents, which must first be reviewed for privileged and nonpublic information.
Attorney Murphy Foster III, who defended the Metro Council against Roper’s suit, said this week that he is still being retained by the council to deal with her onerous public records requests.
He said he’s currently at an impasse with Roper after asking her to agree to pay for the cost of reviewing those documents, a time-consuming and labor-intensive process.
Roper, Foster said, contends she should not have to pay for the labor.
Foster said he also has asked Roper to narrow her search.
“Our office and Ms. Roper are in discussions about the next step,” he said.
The Metro Council will be asked to extend Foster’s contract compensation ceiling to $50,000 from $32,500, because he continues to rack up charges associated with Roper’s requests.
Roper’s initial lawsuit claimed she was being denied due process by the council in its proceedings to remove her. A faction of the council members said they’d lost confidence in her ability to manage and lead the Parish Attorney’s Office, and questioned her judgment related to filing a suit against the council.