The next U.S. Attorney in Baton Rouge could come from one of the city's high-powered law firms or perhaps the Louisiana Attorney General's Office, according to several well-placed members of the local legal community.
Possible candidates whose names are floating around include C. Frank Holthaus, a partner in the firm of deGravelles, Palmintier, Holthaus & Fruge'; Taylor Porter partner Michael S. Walsh; former federal prosecutor Michael Reese Davis, a partner in the firm of Hymel, Davis & Petersen LLC; Kean Miller partner Bradley C. Myers, also a former federal prosecutor; and ex-federal prosecutor Brandon Fremin, director of the state Attorney General's Office's criminal division.
All those named confirmed hearing their names are in circulation as a possible appointment to be the next chief federal prosecutor for the nine-parish Middle District of Louisiana, which is based in Baton Rouge.
One prominent name that has been floated is that of state Sen. Dan Claitor, R-Baton Rouge, a former prosecutor in New Orleans. He said he's flattered but said his obligations are elsewhere.
The 67-year-old Holthaus confirmed on Friday that he's asked to be considered for the appointment. Two of Holthaus' areas of expertise are criminal law, including white-collar defense, and grand jury matters.
Fremin, 43, is a former East Baton Rouge Parish assistant district attorney and former assistant U.S. attorney in the Middle District, where he prosecuted drug trafficking, crimes of violence and immigration matters.
Davis has experience as a federal prosecutor in both Los Angeles and Baton Rouge. He practices white-collar criminal defense, complex civil and commercial litigation, and personal injury. His criminal practice includes fraud, banking, public corruption, health care, money laundering and drug cases. Former U.S. Attorney L. J. Hymel, an ex-city and state court judge, is a partner in Hymel, Davis & Petersen.
Walsh, 61, represents individual and corporate clients in criminal and civil litigation and enforcement cases. His practice involves public corruption, antitrust, health care and environmental matters.
Myers, 60, represents clients in toxic tort defense, commercial and business litigation, civil rights and municipal law, and white-collar criminal defense. He serves as general counsel to the Louisiana Municipal Association.
The search for U.S. attorneys across the country is into its second month after U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions asked all the top prosecutors appointed under the Obama administration. to tender their resignations.
Walt Green, the now former U.S. Attorney in Baton Rouge, resigned last month. Corey Amundson, who served as first assistant U.S. Attorney and chief of the office's criminal division, is the acting U.S. attorney.
Amundson said he was encouraged to seek the presidential appointment as U.S. attorney, but has "concluded that, at this point, my family would be best served by me remaining a career federal prosecutor." He said he looks forward to serving many more administrations.
Nominees for U.S. Attorney positions must be approved by the Senate, and each state's senators traditionally have had a large say in who is appointed. U.S. senators of the same party as the president typically forward recommendations for the posts to the administration.
Public officials look to settle score at Livingston Parish cook-off
Still bitter over the results of last year’s mayoral cook-off at the Livingston Parish Chamber of Commerce Business Expo, Parish Councilman Tracy Girlinghouse vows to take the coveted winner’s paddle home for Walker this year.
“Last year, my mayor (Rick Ramsey) got shafted at the cook-off,” Girlinghouse said in a pot-stirring video the chamber circulated this week. “That’s not going to happen again!”
Denham Springs Mayor Gerard Landry took everyone by surprise during the 2016 mayors’ cook-off when he won the “Best Jambalaya” competition – with a gumbo.
Landry’s coup with roux in the charity fundraiser left the other mayors playfully crying foul.
“We got shafted last year,” Ramsey said in the video. “They took it away from us, and you know they did!”
This year’s competition pits Livingston Parish council members against each other. Still rankled over what happened last year, Girlinghouse, who represents the Walker area, is ramping up the playful trash talking in the runup to the cook-off.
Chamber CEO April Wehrs, meanwhile, is trying her best to stay out of the line of fire. Any disputes over the outcome, she said, should be taken up with the expo vendors who select the winner.
This year’s cook-off will pit Girlinghouse against fellow parish council members Jeff Ard, Tab Lobell, John Wascom, Bubba Harris and Scooter Keen.
The competition will kickstart the sold-out expo, flood resource and job fair, which will be held at 3-6 p.m. Tuesday, at the Suma Hall Community Center in Satsuma.
AG's opinion spells end to Pointe Coupee police jury system
An opinion by the state's Attorney General's Office this week appears to put the final period to the police jury era of Pointe Coupee Parish, effective in January 2019.
Several sitting jurors tried to argue that the home rule charter approved by parish voters recently violated provisions of the state constitution. But the AG’s office, in an opinion issued this week, found otherwise.
The charter abolishes the Police Jury effective in January 2019 after voters select a new parish president and eight-member parish council during the fall 2018 elections.
Sitting jurors cried foul since it would cut a year off of their current terms. However, the Attorney General’s Office said it wasn’t the overreach that some jurors seemed to think it was.
The opinion sharply contrasts an argument from a local attorney the Police Jury hired back in January.
"Well, this puts the question to rest," Jury President Melanie Bueche said in response. "We all have to accept what the AG's opinion is."
The charter was approved by 57 percent of the parish's voters during the Nov. 8 election.
The 12-member Police Jury will officially cease to exist at noon Jan. 12, 2019, according to the charter. That's right after the representatives for the new form of government are sworn in.
Pointe Coupee will be the 25th parish in the state to shift from a police jury form of government to a parish president and parish council system.
Advocate staff writers Joe Gyan, Heidi Kinchen and Terry L. Jones contributed to this article.