CLINTON — The East Feliciana Parish Police Jury voted Tuesday to hire Baton Rouge lawyer Dannie Garrett to represent the jury and individual Finance Committee members in a lawsuit District Attorney Sam D’Aquilla filed against them last month.
D’Aquilla’s suit alleges the Finance Committee violated the state Open Meetings Law with a June 11 meeting to discuss finances of the 20th Judicial District Court and District Attorney’s Office.
Committee Chairman Larry Beauchamp said the meeting was an informal session with court officials and no vote was taken on any matters discussed.
In addition to Beauchamp, the suit names jury President Dennis Aucoin and Chris Hall as individual defendants.
“It’s against the Finance Committee, because the Finance Committee doesn’t take our legal advice well,” the district attorney said.
On another matter, D’Aquilla said he will take the lead in filing notice in the parish’s conveyance records that the jury last month rescinded a property division plat involving land off La. 409 that Planning and Zoning Commission Chairman Richard Howell said violates parish ordinances.
The plat was filed in the parish records after Parish Manager John Rouchon, former commission member Russ Hicks and member Bart Blackledge signed it as meeting parish standards.
Rouchon showed the jury’s Personnel Committee on Friday the minutes of a May 2013 meeting in which he said the jury authorized him to approve subdivision plats. Howell said, however, the land subdivisions must be approved by the commission and the jury as a whole, not the parish manager.
The Personnel Committee members pointedly told Rouchon to discontinue signing maps presented by surveyors for property divisions.
Howell said Tuesday he wants abstractors to know that the plat was rescinded.
Because the owners have sold at least one of the lots the jury now says are illegal, D’Aquilla predicted litigation will result.
In other action Tuesday, the jury:
Agreed to merge voting Precincts 2 and 4 and move the new Precinct 4 polling place to the voting building on La. 68; combine Precinct 9A with Precinct 8, voting at the Jackson Civic Center; and move the voting in Precinct 6 from the Ethel Fire Station to the Slaughter Town Hall. The changes are effective for the spring elections.
Removed from the agenda, for the second consecutive meeting, a discussion on raising jurors’ salaries beginning with the terms that begin Jan. 1. The amount of a proposed raise has not been mentioned publicly, but several jurors said they are not in favor of increasing their pay.
Police Jury elections will be held Oct. 24.