LIVINGSTON — Progress is being made in the Livingston Parish School Board’s months-long legal pursuit of title to a 143-acre tract in the French Settlement area, an attorney working for the board says.
Glen Petersen, who was retained to pursue the board’s claim to the property, said that 21st Judicial District Judge Ray Chutz ruled after a hearing in favor of the board on several preliminary motions filed by attorney Donnie Floyd, representing about 40 occupants who live on the contested land.
Petersen, addressing board members during their meeting Thursday, said that Floyd had disputed the jurisdiction of the court itself and had filed a motion indicating that Ascension Parish should have been involved in the court proceedings.
Chutz denied both of Floyd’s contentions, Petersen said, adding that the judge said he would later consider the matter of proscription, the right of a person to claim ownership of land if he or she has lived on it for 30 or more years, when other facts in the case are determined.
All residents of lots within the area claimed by the board have been asked to furnish proof that they own their land, Petersen said, adding that he is still waiting for their replies.
“I have asked those living in the three subdivisions in the area under question to give proof that they own their property and I have not received their replies,” he said.
Petersen said that the case has been slow in moving to a conclusion because Chutz is the third judge to be assigned to the matter.
He said that two other judges have recused themselves from the case. He said that a new hearing date on the dispute has not yet been set but that he thinks some action will come in the next several weeks.
Petersen said that the case is moving toward either a trial or summary judgment from the court that could finally settle the issue.
One of the more than three dozen residents in the area chose not to join her neighbors in the suit and is seeking a possible personal settlement with the board, Petersen said.
He said that an attorney for the woman who owns the land had approached him and said that she was willing to cede her lot to the board if it would allow her son to live on the property for the remainder of his life. Petersen, who declined to name the woman, said that he had not received a written proposal of settlement from the woman.
The board asserts that it owns the property in question as part of what is known as “16th section land.” This land was historically given to political entities for use in building and developing school systems.