Controversial north shore prosecutor Julie Knight has left the 22nd Judicial District Attorney’s Office.
Knight, who handled felony prosecutions including several murder trials this year, resigned effective Friday, office spokeswoman Lisa Page said.
The 22nd Judicial District includes St. Tammany and Washington parishes.
Knight was a felony prosecutor under former District Attorney Walter Reed but became the subject of negative publicity after a story surfaced suggesting that Knight gave a false statement to police regarding the serving of a summons in Bogalusa in 2012.
In that incident, process server Douglas Dendinger tried to serve a summons on former Bogalusa police Officer Chad Cassard. Dendinger was later arrested after Knight and others accused him of assaulting the officer. But cellphone video of the incident appeared to show Dendinger simply handing the summons to the officer, who then turned and walked away.
In her statement to deputies, Knight said, “We could hear the slap as he hit Cassard’s chest with an envelope of papers. ... This was done in a manner to threaten and intimidate everyone involved.”
Knight was named as a defendant in a federal civil rights lawsuit filed by Dendinger, who was arrested and booked on counts of simple battery, intimidation of a witness and obstruction of justice. Those charges were ultimately thrown out. The federal suit is ongoing.
Another assistant district attorney involved in the same incident, Leigh Ann Wall, left the DA’s Office earlier.
Assistant District Attorney Jay Adair will take over Knight’s cases, DA Warren Montgomery said. “I have complete confidence in him to perform in a highly ethical, highly professional and highly competent manner,” Montgomery said.
Tammany Council to name interim member
In three months, St. Tammany voters will decide who will serve on the next Parish Council, but the decision on who will represent District 13 until that election will be made this month.
Richard Artigue, who served two terms representing the southeast St. Tammany district, resigned to take a job as director of Slidell’s municipal airport. The council has 20 days to name a replacement, which it will do at a special meeting July 29.
The council is accepting résumés from people interested in serving out the reminder of Artigue’s term. Candidates must be residents of the district who have lived there for at least one year.
Résumés should be sent to the Council Office, 21490 Koop Drive, Mandeville, LA 70471, to the attention of Council Administrator Donald C. Henderson Jr.
The deadline to apply is Friday
TV actor to address activist group Monday
Ian Somerhalder, the broodingly handsome Covington native and TV actor, will lend a touch of Hollywood glitz to a public forum hosted by the Concerned Citizens of St. Tammany on Monday.
The recently married Somerhalder and the activist group have found common cause before: He has spoken on social media and in person against a plan by a New Orleans company to drill an oil well on a wooded tract near Lakeshore High School. The Concerned Citizens group strongly opposes the plan.
Somerhalder is a veteran environmental and animal welfare activist and founded the Ian Somerhalder Foundation to help promote those causes. He also waded into a couple of St. Tammany political races last year, posting photos and messages on Instagram backing Alan Black for district attorney and Nanine McCool for a judgeship. Both lost.
The “Vampire Diaries” star is listed as the guest speaker at Monday’s meeting, when the group will get updates on fundraising and membership efforts as well as the latest claims of corruption in St. Tammany Parish.
Andrew Jacoby, an attorney handling the group’s legal challenge to the planned fracking well, will discuss the status of that lawsuit.
The forum will be held at the Abita Springs Town Hall. It will begin at 6:30 p.m., but the doors will open at 6 p.m. A jambalaya dinner will be available for purchase.
Chamber urges council to back term limits
It’s not often that the St. Tammany West Chamber of Commerce and the Concerned Citizens of St. Tammany find common cause.
But they are on the same page after the Parish Council refused to put a measure on the ballot that would allow voters to decide whether to implement term limits on council members.
Concerned Citizens has long advocated for term limits across the board in parish and municipal government. And now the chamber has chimed in with a firmly worded letter and resolution sent to the council, urging the members to reconsider that earlier rejection.
“A survey of the chamber’s general membership found that 90 percent agree that term limits should be enacted,” the resolution says. Even more important, it says, the residents should have the right to decide the issue.
However, that’s exactly the argument the council rejected in June, when it voted 11-3 not to send a term-limits proposal to the voters.
At the time, Councilman Steve Stefancik, who has been on the council for nearly three decades, said voters have the ability to enact a term limit on members every four years. He dismissed mandatory term limits as a “feelgood measure.”
The St. Tammany Parish president has a term limit, and so do the councils in many other parishes, the chamber pointed out in its resolution. In fact, St. Tammany is the only one of Louisiana’s six most populous parishes that does not have term limits for its council, the chamber’s resolution says.
According to its literature, the chamber represents 1,000 businesses and 30,000 employees.
Compiled by Faimon A. Roberts III and Sara Pagones.