GONZALES — A district judge ruled Thursday that the chairman of a recall effort against two Gonzales city councilmen acted in good faith when he provided copies of the recall petitions to one of councilmen targeted in the effort.
During questioning from his attorney, Ivy Graham, Gonzales City Councilman Gary Lacombe said he had not received the recall petitions early enough from Chuck LeBlanc, chairman of Save Gonzales — the group that organized the recall effort against Lacombe and Councilman Timothy Vessel.
Lacombe said he wanted the petitions in order to talk with residents about possibly taking their names off the documents.
“It’s hard to see any damages (for Lacombe),” Matt Pryor, LeBlanc’s attorney, told 23rd Judicial District Judge Ralph Tureau.
“He got 100 signatures” off the recall petition, of which all but four people ended up signing it again later, Pryor said.
Lacombe said that prior to filing the lawsuit Aug. 21, he sent LeBlanc a letter asking that Lacombe be allowed to review the recall petitions, which become public documents after the first signature.
LeBlanc told Lacombe that not all of the copies of the petitions were in his possession and pointed out that volunteers had them, and the petitions would not be returned to LeBlanc until the recall signature drive was over, LeBlanc testified.
“Do you believe the record was purposefully kept from you?” Graham asked Lacombe.
“I do,” Lacombe said.
The judge disagreed.
In his ruling, Tureau said that when LeBlanc had the last of the petitions in early September, he brought a copy to Lacombe at a City Council meeting.
Lacombe didn’t take the copy of the petitions then, but the two men agreed to meet at a local office supply store the next day so Lacombe could make his own copy, the judge said.
“The court does not find that there was any bad faith” on the part of LeBlanc, Tureau said.
“The court is not going to award fines or attorney’s fees,” the judge said at the end of the three-hour trial.
Tureau, however, did order that LeBlanc pay Lacombe’s costs to file the suit.
Lacombe and Vessel are on the Dec. 6 ballot in a recall election.