State appeals court upholds disqualification of Derrick Shepherd in state House race _lowres

Advocate staff photo by MATTHEW HINTON--Former state Sen. Derrick Shepherd signs papers next to chief deputy Jefferson Parish Clerk of Court Frank Borne, left, as Jon A. Gegenheimer. clerk of court, top right, watches as Shepherd takes part in the qualifying process for Louisiana house district 87 at the Jefferson Parish Government Building in Gretna, La. Thursday, Sept. 10, 2015. Shepherd plead guilty to money laundering and believes he can still qualify for the legislature.

A state appeals court panel agreed Wednesday to continue a stay keeping former state Sen. Derrick Shepherd’s name on the Oct. 24 ballot for a state House seat while his legal battle against the constitutional provision preventing convicted felons like him from running for office plays out.

Attorney Robert Garrity told the state 5th Circuit Court of Appeal panel that allowing a stay issued by a district judge to expire would cause unnecessary harm to Shepherd’s bid because getting his name put back on the ballot if he’s successful in court would be difficult, given that the election is only a month away.

The other candidates in the race for the House District 87 seat from the West Bank of Jefferson Parish are incumbent Ebony Woodruff and Rodney Lyons Sr.

The panel of judges did not rule on Shepherd’s challenge to the constitutional amendment barring felons from running for office for 15 years after completing their sentence.

Shepherd, who served two years in prison, says what was passed by voters in 1997 is null and void because it was not identical to what was approved by the Legislature. He filed a lawsuit to that effect in East Baton Rouge Parish, and Judge Wilson Fields ruled in his favor Tuesday. That case will be appealed to the Louisiana Supreme Court.