Former state Sen. Troy Brown got his day in court. Two of them, in fact.
And he did pretty well for himself. By pleading no contest to two separate domestic violence-related allegations in the space of four months, he managed to escape with only misdemeanors on his record, not felonies.
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So despite admitting that he punched his longtime girlfriend in the eye following the 2015 Bayou Classic football game and bit his wife as they struggled over a cell phone in their Geismar home last summer, Brown's lawyer spent more than an hour before the Senate last Wednesday arguing that he should be judged not as a serial abuser, but as someone who committed what the Legislature itself has deemed minor crimes.
From Brown's point of view, a virtual trial focused on technical legalities would have been better than the alternative: A hearing on whether he brought credit or shame to the Senate itself.
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While Brown's lawyer argued in favor of the former, his peers made it clear they were intent on staging the latter. That Brown accepted the inevitable and resigned late Thursday before the hearing could take place speaks better of his former colleagues than it does of him.
Almost to a person, a rarely convened disciplinary committee consisting of the entire Senate rejected attorney Jill Craft's attempts to focus the high-stakes expulsion debate, which had been set for Monday, on the fact that her client had been convicted of infractions that, on paper, are akin to traffic violations. Senators also rejected Craft's claim that her client was being denied due process and judgment under a specific standard.
Instead, Senate President John Alario formally ruled that "this is a select committee set out in the rules of the Senate. It is not a trial." And senators, both Republicans and Brown's fellow Democrats, made it clear they were focused on his underlying behavior.
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State Sen. Dan Claitor, a Baton Rouge Republican and one of the expulsion resolution's authors, insisted the proceeding wasn't about garden-variety misdemeanors but "about beating women on multiple occasions." State Sen. Danny Martiny, a Republican from Metairie, chimed in that "it's the nature of the conduct here, not how it was classified."
And state Sen. J.P. Morrell, a New Orleans Democrat, countered Craft's assertion that the Senate isn't applying any predictable standard to how it's treating Brown. The standard, Morrell said, is what's unbecoming the Senate.
They're right. The Louisiana Legislature doesn't do a great job of weeding out conflicts of interests or showing respect for women, but even by its typically lax standard, the thought of domestic violence victims having to petition a twice-convicted perpetrator for more effective laws is genuinely galling.
Brown's insistence that he's a victim here too makes it all the more so.
Brown apologized for his conduct and said he's seeking help, but he also cast his crusade to stay in office as a move to protect his constituents, not himself. He sought to minimize the severity of his offenses by pointing out that the Legislature has never before expelled someone convicted of a misdemeanor, only a felony.
He even brazenly cast himself as one of the Senate's champions of women.
"I can only echo my anger management therapist: take a few deep breaths and try to come up with a more constructive reaction to help women, like voting for equal pay,” Brown said in the statement he released after his second conviction last month.
In admitting defeat and resigning, Brown still managed to complain.
"It is readily apparent to me that the fair and impartial hearing before my peers will not transpire," he said after his resignation press conference.
Sure, Brown said during the press conference that he was leaving "with the sincerest hopes of sparing this precious body any further embarrassment.”
But that would have been far more convincing if Brown had conceded that the embarrassment the Senate has already endured was all on him.