Pelican Institute’s Erspamer expresses concern over possible “knee-jerk reactions” during Special Session on Crime; stresses need to “follow data” on 2017 criminal justice reforms and cites Albert Einstein’s definition of insanity on fears of reforms being undone.

Daniel Erspamer, CEO of the Pelican Institute, addresses the Baton Rouge Press Club on Monday, February 12, 2024.

Daniel Erspamer, CEO of The Pelican Institute, a free-market think tank based in New Orleans, Louisiana, was the guest speaker at the Baton Rouge Press Club meeting of Monday, February 12, 2024.  Erspamer covered a number of topics, and we are going to cover those topics in individual features.

Given that today is the opening day of Gov. Landry’s Special Session on Crime, we’ll start our coverage with commentary that Erspamer provided regarding the potential for “knee-jerk reactions” to perceptions that criminal justice reform initiatives of 2017 wherein nonviolent criminals obtained releases from prison, which were championed by the Edwards administration but strongly supported by the Pelican Institute, may not be working.

In fact, a gentleman speaking on behalf of Catholic charities posed a question of Erspamer echoing Erspamer’s  concerns and stating that, given what some of the bills may entail, “we have our work cut out for us.”  Let’s take a look at Erspamer’s commentary as well as his fielding of the question regarding the crime initiatives set to kick off with today’s Special Session of the Legislature:

2/12/24:  Erspamer expresses some concern over potential content of bills introduced for the 2024 Special Session on Crime and fields a question on same.

Earlier today (Monday, February 19, 2024), the Legislature provided this index of bills filed by category which folk may find as a useful tool to get a general feel of the nature of the bills which have been filed.  Thereafter, anyone can use the Bill Search webpage for the Special Session to ascertain where a given bill stands in the process of being enacted into law and, if so inclined, show up and testify at Committee hearings on individual bills.

As we mentioned, we’ll be covering other aspects of Erspamer’s presentation in coming days and weeks; however, for those who like to “skip ahead” a little, we’ll be placing a heavy focus on Erspamer’s commentary on occupational licensing in Louisiana, which still ranks as the single issue about which Sound Off Louisiana founder Robert Burns is most passionate.  In fact, it was Burns’ own frustrations with the Louisiana Auctioneer Licensing Board (LALB) and the inherent corruption which he asserts has been present for decades on that Board which led to the very formation of this blog.

As part of that “jump ahead” for those curious, however, we would draw everyone’s attention to this Federal lawsuit filed by would-be florist Angele Mixson, who is represented by the Pelican Institute.  The suit was filed on Wednesday, April 14, 2024.  Mixson asserts that she became passionate about floristry after the heartbreaking death of her 26-year-old daughter from fentanyl poisoning.  Mixson would arrange flowers at her daughter’s gravesite.  We would encourage anyone to click on the lawsuit and scroll to page 45 to begin seeing some of the beautiful arrangements created by Mixson.

Nevertheless, on November 2, 2023, Tina Peltier, Director of Louisiana’s Horticulture and Quarantine Commission, sent Mixson a letter informing her that she had failed the retail licensing exam for florists with a score of 25 (see page 80 of the lawsuit linked above).  The minimum passing score is 70.  The letter concludes by stating, “if you need further information…….,” but Mixson obviously decided she had all the “information” she needed for filing the above-linked lawsuit in Federal Court.  We’ll monitor it as well as other initiatives of the Pelican Institute and keep site visitors abreast of developments as they unfold.

LSP Lt. John Clary’s leave restored after bogus indictment dismissed, but will LSP conduct thorough investigation to uncover just how he was falsely accused and hold those responsible accountable?

Louisiana State Police (LSP) Lt. John Clary (left), along with his attorney, Kyle Green, prepare to depart from the Louisiana State Police Commission (LSPC) meeting of February 8, 2024 seconds after Clary’s leave was fully restored that he was forced to expend while defending a bogus indictment of December 15, 2022 in which he was falsely accused of, “concealing his body-worn camera video for almost two years.”

By now, we feel certain that no visitor to this site will even try to assert that we have not authoritatively and indisputably demonstrated that LSP Lt. John Clary was flat-out falsely accused of concealing his body-worn camera.  For that reason, we’re not going to rehash all that we have previously presented in the just-linked feature.

We submit that, because of Clary’s clear and unequivocal innocence of the indictment charge against him, Union Parish District Attorney John Belton had little choice but to dismiss the charge against Clary.  That indictment count alleged that Clary, in the aftermath of Ronald Greene’s arrest and in-custody death on May 10, 2019, “concealed his body-worn camera for almost two years.”

We’ve also asserted that Clary’s clear-cut innocence is what caused essentially no fanfare whatsoever when he was reinstated to LSP late last year.

On Thursday, February 8, 2024, we contend that it was again Clary’s innocence which prompted the LSPC to, expeditiously and without any discussion at all, reinstate all of the leave Clary had to burn through while he was pursued by Belton on the completely bogus indictment count.  Let’s take a look:

 2/8/24:  LSPC reinstates all of Clary’s leave which he had to burn through during Union Parish DA John Belton’s pursuit of a bogus indictment for, “concealing his body-worn camera for almost two years.”

While Clary got his leave restored because it never should have been required to have been used in the first place because the indictment never should have transpired, that in no way compensates Clary for all of the stress, public humiliation, and severe tarnishing of his reputation and good name which he endured from this irresponsible act on the part of several individuals who played key roles in causing this bogus indictment to even materialize.

The bigger question, therefore, in our minds at least, is whether LSP is going to launch a full, complete, and thorough investigation into what all transpired in April and May of 2021 that caused Clary and his family to endure this traumatic year in their lives?

During testimony before the Special Louisiana House Committee investigating the Death of Ronald Greene, on several occasions both former Lt. Col. and then-Chief of Staff Doug Cain as well as former Sergeant Albert Paxton were asked about the “Clary mistake,” as the whole incident came to allegedly be known among those with knowledge of the matter.  From our vantage point, which has included an extensive amount of time spent reading reports, reading emails, and watching in fine and excruciating detail testimony before that Greene Committee, the “mistake” made by LSP which most definitely needs fixing entailing policy going forward involves the following:

No investigating trooper should be permitted to author a report (be it original or supplemental) which directly points the finger at a fellow trooper accusing the trooper of an act which, if true, would constitute a criminal act, without that report being sent up the Chain of Command to include every single level of LSP Management for written sign off to include LSP’s Colonel on that report!  That report should not even be considered finalized until that final level of written, signed-off approval has been obtained!

In the now-highly-controversial supplemental report authored by then-Sergeant Albert Paxton, which is dated May 6, 2021 and references April 9, 2021 as being the first day Paxton obtained knowledge of the Clary body cam video (his subsequent testimony before the Greene Committee of March 22, 2022 indicating that he first learned of it on or around October 2, 2020 — which was corroborated by LSP’s then-use-of-force expert, Scott Davis — notwithstanding), we can note no other approval beyond Paxton’s supervisor, Johnny Brown.  The report indicates that Paxton electronically signed it on May 6, 2021 at 2:39 p.m., and Brown signed it on May 6, 2021 at 2:42 p.m.

We have reviewed and reported upon a high-profile past appointment by a former LSP Colonel which required SIX (6) layers of approval!  So, a relatively mundane appointment (although it turned out to be quite controversial and anything but mundane) has to be signed off by six successive levels of LSP Management, but a report directly accusing a trooper of an act which, if true, constitutes a criminal act, requires mere signing off by the trooper authoring the report’s supervisor?  That sounds like an absolutely stellar internal control system to us!  By requiring many more levels of Management to sign off on such a report, at a bare minimum, far more extensive collusion activities would be required at every level of LSP!

Are we saying that collusion took place in this matter?  We don’t think anyone is ever going to have the answer to that question unless and until the thorough and comprehensive investigation which we’ve called for on this whole matter is finalized!

Irrespective of whether any collusion did in fact transpire, we are willing to state that the rather matter-of-fact, coincidental, and actually haphazard manner in which Paxton is alleged to have first learned of the Clary video is itself suspect to us.  Now, recall that Davis (the one-time use-of-force LSP expert) accessed the Clary video on April 9, 2021 (beyond his downloading of it only five days after Clary uploaded it), which became the critical date Paxton claims that he first learned of the Clary body-cam video.  From the report:

On Friday, April 9, 2021, I was discussing the Ronald Greene in custody death case (IRS #19-5709) with Sgt. Scott Davis. Sgt. Davis is a use of force instructor at the LSP Training Academy and is responsible for reviewing videos and use of force reports to evaluate use of force incidents. I rely on Sgt. Davis’ knowledge and expertise when investigating use of force cases.

During our conversation, Sgt. Davis mentioned a phone call Lt. John Clary made to Capt. John Peters while Lt. Clary was on the Greene crime scene. Sgt. Davis began telling me about the conversation when I interrupted him asking, “What conversation”. He told me it was a conversation captured on Lt. Clary’s body camera. I told him I was not aware Lt. Clary had body camera footage of the incident and further told him, on the morning of the incident, May 10, 2019, Lt. Clary told me he did not have body camera video of the incident.

Perhaps Davis accessed the video that same date (April 9, 2021) to prove to Paxton that it existed; however, any decent auditor of any entity could not help but openly question if that access, combined with the manner in which Paxton asserted in the report that he first learned of the body camera video (and ESPECIALLY in light of the fact that word had been circulating around LSP that videos had been leaked to the media) was not a convenient means to try and fortify Paxton’s statement of how he initially uncovered the existence of the Clary body-worn camera video.

That is to say that, if, in accordance with their March 22, 2022 testimonies, the video was discussed between Paxton and Davis on or around October 2, 2020, and now a fear sets in that the media may publish the Clary video, perhaps a “scapegoat” may be needed for why Belton was not in possession of the video.  Davis accesses the video on April 9, 2021 to substantiate him indicating to Paxton that Clary had body-worn camera video so that neither of them could be blamed for the fact that Belton did not have it, nor had any effort whatsoever apparently been made between the dates of October 2, 2020 and April 9, 2021 to get that video in Belton’s hands!  The perfect “scapegoat?”:  Lt. John Clary!

At any rate, we find the above material in that Paxton supplemental report nothing short of astounding given that both Paxton and Davis testified on March 22, 2022 before the Greene Committee that they discussed the Clary body-worn camera video (per Paxton), “right around the time” of then-Master Trooper Chris Hollingsworth’s body-cam audio being leaked to the media wherein Hollingsworth tells a gentleman by the name of Chris White that, “I beat the ever-living f— out of him!”  That audio segment of Hollingsworth’s video contents  was published on October 2, 2020, which is  long before April 9, 2021 on any calendar that we’ve checked lately (189 days to be exact)!

What is immensely frustrating about all of this is that, IF higher levels of Management at LSP had been required to sign off on that report, it would seem that, before anyone risked destroying his or her own credibility in signing such a report, he or she would pick up the phone and call a few folk to check on the accuracy of what is in that report.

For example, if anyone had made a simple phone call to LSP Internal Affairs, someone in that Department should have been able to inform the caller (LSP higher level Management) that, “Clary did no such thing!  Sergeant Mike Talley viewed Lt. Clary’s body-worn camera in early September of 2020 in preparation for finalizing his internal affairs report dated October 20, 2020.  For that matter, so did Richard Buckland and Kevin Decote during the same timeframe as Talley viewed the video.”

Yeah, it would seem that adding a few more layers of LSP Management to be held accountable over all of this and those higher layers of Management making just a few phone calls could have caused the whole “Clary mistake” (as we define the “mistake,”) from ever transpiring, and it would most certainly have prevented it from escalating to the point that Clary actually got indicted by a Grand Jury!  That fact (that he got indicted on pure horse manure) still absolutely blows our minds!

Instead, what happened is that the report and some extensive notes associated with same were conveniently leaked to a major media outlet, and the “Clary mistake” took on a whole new life of its own which simply contained no resemblance whatsoever to the actual “Clary mistake,” which was a complete meltdown of LSP’s internal system to have stopped the false allegation against Clary from ever even being successfully lodged!  In that LSP meltdown, Clary was publicly tried in the media and declared “guilty” before even being able to utter a word to the contrary regarding his innocence.  We can only imagine the absolute frustration that must have entailed for Clary and his family and close friends.

In our minds, those parties who were responsible for the supplemental report and its contents are likely to be key prosecution witnesses when the trials of Union Parish Deputy Chris Harpin and LSP Trooper Kory York transpire.  We’ll only state that we would not want to be in Belton’s shoes (or should we say Hugo Holland’s shoes since he’ll be the one having to actually prosecute the cases) when it comes time for cross examination!

Also, entailing York, on January 31, 2024 the Louisiana Second Circuit Court of Appeals Denied his Appeal of Judge Rogers’ Denial of his Motion to Quash.  Interestingly enough, it took the Second Circuit 2-1/2 months to issue the Denial and provide zilch in the way of explaining why the Writ was Denied.  We’ll see if that ends up being the final word on the matter; however, as we see it as a 100 percent certainty that York’s attorney, J. Michael Small, appeals that “blank denial” of the Second Circuit on to the Louisiana State Supreme Court.

At any rate, let’s hope that LSP does in fact learn a valuable lesson from this Clary disaster and keeps it from ever repeating itself because many lives endured much needless stress over this whole incident, but none any more than Lt. John Clary, who at least got a small level of vindication through the LSPC’s act depicted on the video above on February 8, 2024.


In controversial move, LSP caves to pressure of “various risks of potential protracted litigation” in reinstating Justin Chaisson (a/k/a “Stalekracker”), costing taxpayers $128k in the process.


On Friday, May 5, 2023, LSP Trooper Justin “Stalekracker” Chaisson prepares alligator tacos at a Cinco de Mayo celebration (Photo Source:  McComb Enterprise Journal).

On January 6, 2023, LSP Trooper Justin Chaisson  (a/k/a “Stalekracker”) was fired from Louisiana State Police (LSP) for his role in a boating crash over the Fourth of July weekend in 2022.  The easiest way to bring visitors up to speed is to present the WBRZ video associated with the link in the preceding sentence.  Here it is:

1/6/23 video from WBRZ’s coverage of Chaisson’s firing.

Chaisson appealed his termination, which was handed down by former LSP Col. Lamar Davis as evidenced by this Termination Letter dated January 4, 2023 effective January 6, 2023 at 4:30 p.m. [Please note that the copy quality for the first two pages is less than stellar; however, beginning on page three (3), the quality of the copy improves dramatically].

We normally place highlights of such correspondence within our features; however, we are instead in this instance going to merely make two quick notations about the letter.  First, we’ll point out that the operator of the boat in which Chaisson was traveling as a passenger had a blood alcohol content of 0.152%, which is nearly twice the legal limit for driving.  We make that observation because of the horrendously bad copy quality and notate that the BAC measurement is on page two (2) of the document at the very end of the second paragraph.

Second, former LSP Colonel Davis asserts that Chaisson was repeatedly “inconsistent” in statements he made about the incident (hit a tree stump vs. another boat, statements made to investigating officers, etc.).

According to Louisiana State Police Commission (LSPC) records we requested and received on Friday, February 2, 2024, an appeal hearing was initially scheduled for June 8, 2023.  That hearing was continued until December 14, 2023.  That hearing was continued until January 11, 2024, which was the most recent LSPC meeting.  Because the passengers (and owners) in the other boat had previously scheduled a vacation to Denver, Colorado, another continuance became necessary.

LSP instead opted to, on January 4, 2024, agree to this joint settlement between LSP and Chaisson reversing the termination and instead converting it to a 240-hour suspension.  From that agreement:

The parties hereby agree to resolve this appeal as follows:


A.  The termination imposed as discipline for violating the foregoing LSP policies is rescinded. The record of termination imposed as discipline will be expunged from his personnel, Internal Affairs and departmental record.

B.  A 240 hour suspension will be recorded in lieu thereof, nominated in the following form-

(i) Conduct Unbecoming             40-hour suspension

(ii) Conformance to Laws           40-hour suspension

(iii) Employee Responsibility  120-hour suspension

(iv) Lawful Orders                         40-hour suspension


C.  Reinstatement to the rank of Master Trooper shall be effectuated as of January 12, 2024, but only upon approval of this Joint Consent Settlement by affim1ative vote of the Louisiana State Police Commission on or before January 11, 2024.

D.  Remuneration for reinstatement shall be paid in accordance with the two-page spreadsheet identified as Exhibit A attached hereto, and all parties hereby agree that the amounts and totals included thereon are correct and calculated without error.

At the conclusion of the two-page spreadsheet referenced in D) above, the final cost to taxpayers to reinstate Chaisson is $128,000+.  As pointed out to us by one retired LSP Lieutenant, that figure does not include all of the annual leave which was reinstated beyond the 300 hours which Chaisson was paid at termination (which was deducted from the final cost of reinstatement).

At this time, let’s present a brief (90 second) video from the January 11, 2024 LSPC meeting at which LSP attorney George Hardy provided the only stated reason LSP was willing to divulge regarding why it chose to agree to this settlement agreement with Chaisson (and we’ll note Hardy seemed to fumble around for words to provide LSP’s justification):

1/11/24:  LSP Legal Counsel George Hardy explains the rationale for LSP agreeing to the settlement agreement.

As we begin to conclude this feature, let us provide an interview we conducted today (Monday, February 5, 2024) with Billy Broussard, who attended the 1/11/24 LSPC meeting wherein he and Sound Off Louisiana founder Robert Burns discuss various factors which may have played into LSP’s decision, to include:   race relations (past and present) at LSP.  Further, Burns provides the feedback of two (2) retired LSP Troopers for whom Burns states that he has the utmost of respect.  Though Burns respects both of the retired troopers, their opinions regarding Chaisson’s reinstatement were 180 degrees apart.  Here is that video:

 2/5/24:  Burns and Broussard engage in a friendly banter entailing LSP’s rationale for agreeing to the Stalekracker settlement agreement.

Regarding Burns candidly stating that the LSPC got itself into a predicament regarding a past action entailing Sheldon Perkins, we provide  the link for that feature.  The videos are WELL worth the watch for relative newcomers to Sound Off Louisiana as well as refreshing long-time Sound Off Louisiana viewers regarding Perkins’ reprehensible conduct as well as LSPC’s bizarre action of reinstating him.

Regarding Burns’ reference to Davis’ reference to, “police officers being treated special,” here’s that video:

  Former LSP Col. Lamar Davis, very early in his tenure as Colonel, indicates that the public would not receive the same rights and liberal leave policies the LSPC & LSP are affording LSP Troopers.

We can only say that, since the time Davis made that utterance, many citizens in Louisiana would assert that Sheldon Perkins and Justin “Stalekracker” Chaisson’s reinstatements would serve as Prima facie evidence which strongly buttresses Davis’ statement.

We conclude this feature by indicating that, though the Chaisson matter may now be fully resolved, we just may hear from Mr. and Mrs. Sheets at the February 8, 2024 (Thursday) meeting of the LSPC.  We indicate that as a result of this Denial of a Continuance sought by LSP in light of their Denver, Colorado vacation.  LSPC attorney Lenore Feeney notes in the Denial:  “The Motion to Continue is denied; however, the record will remain open so that Mr. and Mrs. Sheets may testify at the February 8, 2024 meeting of the Commission.”

If Mr. and Mrs. Sheets do attend and testify (which they can always speak on any matter not even on the agenda at the meeting’s conclusion), we will certainly be there to videotape their statements and subsequently publish those statements.