A Jefferson Parish judge acted properly when she approved two orders requiring School Board member Cedric Floyd to stay away from a colleague with whom he had a heated encounter last year, a state appellate court has ruled.
Judge Nancy Miller, of 24th Judicial District Court, approved a previously issued temporary restraining order and granted a preliminary injunction telling Floyd to stay away from Michael Delesdernier.
State 5th Circuit Court of Appeal Judges Susan Chehardy, Fredericka Wicker and Robert Chaisson ruled last week that Louisiana law prohibits appellate courts from reviewing lower courts’ decisions to either grant or deny temporary restraining orders.
In an opinion authored by Wicker, the panel also said there was no evidence that Miller abused the discretion afforded to her in such a matter when she issued a preliminary injunction against Floyd.
Neither Floyd nor his attorney, Anderson Council, responded Monday to messages seeking comment.
Floyd can ask the 5th Circuit to reconsider its ruling or request that the state Supreme Court overturn it.
Delesdernier’s attorney, Leonard Levenson, praised the ruling, saying the 5th Circuit panel properly believed various witnesses who testified that Floyd “charged” Delesdernier in a “physically aggressive manner” and later struck the back of Delesdernier’s chair during a disagreement over legal advice presented at a School Board meeting on July 2, 2014.
Floyd denied behaving aggressively that day, but Delesdernier secured a temporary restraining order against him. That order was extended several times — in part because multiple judges recused themselves from the case — until Miller on Nov. 3, 2014, signed the preliminary injunction telling Floyd not to come within 3 feet of Delesdernier.
Miller also denied a request from Floyd to dissolve the TRO.
In his appeal, Floyd argued that the repeated extension of the initial TRO was improper because on one occasion it wasn’t signed until five hours after the original order had expired.
He contended that he was owed compensation for attorney’s fees under a state law providing damages for temporary restraining orders that are wrongfully issued.
Floyd further argued that injunctions should be granted only to parties who are facing “irreparable loss or injury without adequate remedy at law” and that Delesdernier did not prove that was the case.
The 5th Circuit panel rejected Floyd’s first argument by citing a series of cases holding that “an appellate court has no authority on appeal to consider the propriety of the (lower) court judgment refusing to grant or dissolve a temporary restraining order.”
The panel rebuffed the second argument by saying Delesdernier was entitled to an injunction as long as it could be established that Floyd’s conduct was unlawful. And the testimony of several witnesses supported Miller’s finding that Floyd broke a state law prohibiting people from placing others “in reasonable apprehension” of being struck, Wicker wrote.
Delesdernier lost a bid for re-election in late 2014, as did several other School Board members who, like him, were friendly to the Jefferson Parish business community’s interests. They were replaced by members aligned with the parish teachers union.
Before Delesdernier left office, the School Board voted to pay him more than $14,000 to reimburse him for legal fees he incurred during the case against Floyd. However, he returned the check, and the new board voted to rescind the payment.
Floyd, meanwhile, is at the end of a one-year term as School Board president. During his presidency, the board’s staff secretary accused him of being verbally abusive toward her. She later resigned.