She’s no longer in office, booted by voters after less than two years — only one of which she spent doing her elected job.
But former Orleans Parish Juvenile Court Judge Yolanda King still must face charges that she lied about living in New Orleans when she qualified to run for election in 2013. And the criminal case will soon heat up again, after sitting dormant for months.
An April 27 trial date has been set for King to answer charges that she filed a false public record and violated the election code by claiming a New Orleans address when she really lived at a house she owns in Slidell.
Following her indictment in March, the Louisiana Supreme Court barred her from taking the bench while she faced the charges. Then, in November, voters ousted her in the primary.
King claims she’s the victim of political payback from supporters of losing rival Doug Hammel, a former Jefferson Parish prosecutor. She says she mistakenly received a homestead exemption for years at the Slidell house and has noted that she appears to be the only elected official ever charged criminally in the state over a fairly common allegation against candidates.
Ad hoc Judge Michael Kirby set the April trial date following an appeals court decision last month rejecting King’s bid to have the indictment quashed.
King’s attorney, Clarence Roby Jr., said he’s eager to secure evidence from federal authorities to back up King’s claim that she was wired up as part of a federal probe after she reported threats to leave the race before her surprising runoff victory in May 2013.
Roby said King is looking forward to her day in court.
“There needs to be closure to this circus,” he said. “To delay this any further is adding insult to injury.”
In the meantime, he said, King is seeking work while her replacement, Desiree Cook-Calvin, warms up the Juvenile Court bench.
Brister critic seeks degree requirement
Few of St. Tammany Parish President Pat Brister’s critics are more vociferous than Terri Lewis Stevens, a Mandeville-area architect who has frequently made herself a thorn in the side of the president and the Parish Council.
Stevens’ latest salvo is a letter to the parish’s Home Rule Charter Committee, requesting that the body consider a provision that would require anyone who runs for parish president to have at least a bachelor’s degree.
Stevens acknowledges that the idea formed after she wondered about Brister’s educational background, though she admits the measure couldn’t be passed in time to prevent Brister from serving another term. The committee is hoping to present the voters with a series of charter amendments by 2016; Brister is up for re-election this fall.
According to a spokesman, Brister has taken college classes but does not have a degree, a fact that hasn’t escaped Stevens’ notice.
“The benefits of a college education are well established,” she wrote in her letter to the committee.
The parish’s current charter requires only that the parish president be at least 18 years old, a qualified elector of the parish and a resident for at least three years.
“St. Tammany Parish is one of, if not the, most well educated populous (sic) in the state,” Stevens wrote in her letter to the committee. Further, she said, the parish president’s role is similar to that of the CEO of a large company, overseeing more than 500 employees and a nine-figure budget. Requiring a bachelor’s degree “would seem reasonable and expected,” she wrote.
Stevens’ letter also asserts, incorrectly, that St. Bernard requires its parish president to have a master’s degree. St. Bernard, like St. Tammany, requires that the chief administrative officer have a master’s degree but not the parish president.
Stevens was undeterred.
“I guess it might boil down to ... why wouldn’t that be our aspiration moving forward? It isn’t likely that we couldn’t find enough college grads to select from,” she wrote in an email.
The committee will meet Jan. 21.
New Harahan mayor rethinks her rethinking
Harahan’s newly elected mayor decided to “move forward” Thursday night, appointing the city’s new prosecutor, attorney and magistrate judge.
With a 4-1 vote, the City Council approved David Courcelle as city prosecutor, Stephen London as city attorney and Joanne Mantis as magistrate judge.
Mayor Tina Miceli’s decision to appoint the trio of area attorneys to their new posts represented a bit of an about-face. Nola.com had reported earlier in the day that Miceli had decided to hold off on the appointments after the news organization raised questions about the fact that London and Mantis do not live in Harahan and that Mantis had represented a consulting company that allegedly rented a boat to a former Plaquemines Parish sheriff improperly.
Miceli, however, made the appointments anyway. She pointed out she was only required to give preference to candidates who live in Harahan and that she had pursued several people who met that bill, only to have them withdraw. She also said the subpoena sent to Plaquemines Parish in 2012 over the boat-rental allegations didn’t amount to proof of any wrongdoing. She said it was more important to move forward with the appointments, and a majority of the council agreed.
The city attorney’s position pays $27,000 per year, while the prosecutor’s job pays $6,000 and the magistrate judge’s $4,800. None of the positions is full time; none includes benefits.
Councilwoman Dana Huete was the lone dissenter in the votes, saying she wanted more discussion.
Compiled by staff writers John Simerman, Faimon A. Roberts III and Chad Calder