City Court decision to appoint a new administrator offends one Metro Councilwoman _lowres

Advocate staff file photo by BILL FEIG -- C. Denise Marcelle

The Baton Rouge City Court judges have appointed Lynn Maloy as their newest City Court clerk and judicial administrator, 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 a replacement for Norris. Council members wanted time to seek a change in the Plan of Government to make the position elected.

But two weeks ago, a majority of the five City Court judges voted in favor of appointing Maloy, who is currently the deputy judicial administrator. Judges Suzan Ponder, Laura Prosser and Alex “Brick” Wall voted in favor of appointing Maloy.

“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 ignore the council’s request.

The resolution is nonbinding. 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 Ponder, said 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.

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 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.

Follow Rebekah Allen on Twitter, @rebekahallen. For more coverage of city-parish government, follow City Hall Buzz blog at http://blogs.theadvocate.com/cityhallbuzz/