Are Louisiana lawyers poised to elect ethically-challenged St. Tammany Parish CFO attorney Kelly Rabalias to an esteemed position on the Louisiana State Bar Association?

 

 

St. Tammany Parish Council Chief Administrative Officer Kelly Rabalais, who has stunned many members of Concerned Citizens of St. Tammany Parish (CCST) in making a runoff for the Louisiana State Bar Association’s Board of Governors to represent the Fifth District.  Her runoff opponent is Jack Whitehead, Jr.

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UPDATE @ 8:26 p.m. on 2/5/19:

 

We were contacted by representatives of CCST soon after this feature was published, and we were notified that the final legal tab for the raw sewage servitude deceit was over $1 million!!

We were also informed that the $500,000 in litigation costs for DA  Montgomery having to fight the Council and Brister in court is “extremely conservative.”

 

UPDATE @ 11:26 p.m. on 2/6/19:

 

We reached out to CCST for the ultimate disposition of CCST Member Terri Stevens’ litigation.  In addition to supplying us with the original brief he filed with the First Circuit Court of Appeal, (which we believe our subscribers will find interesting to compare the material set forth in the preceding linked brief with the finding of the Appeals Court), we received further response from CCST’s attorney L. Kevin Coleman, which we now provide our subscribers in full:  

 

 

“The Stevens case had lots of twists and turns, not the least of which was how the subject and focus of the case was effectively changed by the court at the constant urging of defense counsel.  I attended most of the hearings and it was painful to watch the corruption of the case unfold:  The flash drive delivered anonymously to plaintiffs had caught the defendants red-handed in a cover-up, with Ms. Rabalais prominently featured, but because counsel for plaintiffs had not notified defense counsel of the existence of the drive, defense counsel cried foul on two counts:

 

“#1) They alleged with great fanfare that the flash drive was not timely revealed/turned over to them (an approximately two-week delay by their allegations), and #2) and with even more vigor, that the flash drive was stolen from St. Tammany Parish Government and contained privilege communications between the attorney and client. 

 

“In this manner, they were allowed to successfully change the subject.   Ms. Stevens and her counsel were sanctioned by the trial court for failure to timely comply with discovery orders, which is where the contempt and attorney fees award came from.   

 

“Thereafter, effectively the court of appeal held that the trial court’s sealing of the flash drive from review or use was appropriate as a further sanction for the alleged wrong-doing of failing to timely turn it over to the defense.   The fact that wasn’t actually what the trial court had said or ordered made no never mind:  The trial judge had said repeatedly that she needed to review what was on the drive to determine whether its contents were privileged  but she never did that.  (The party pleading privilege has a duty to prove that claim with specificity but  defendants had failed to do that; they just continuously played the injured party).  Instead, the flash drive and its contents were sealed from review or use, and so was buried the evidence of the defendants’ clear wrong-doing.

 

“I pro-bono represented the plaintiffs on appeal from those rulings where I tried to un-do the damage, but the court of appeal affirmed the trial court’s judgments.   (Trial court has “much discretion” in ruling on discovery issues and the court of appeal could not find that it had abused that discretion; abuse of discretion requires a high degree of proof; etc.)

 

“As to Stevens’ allegations being unfounded – that’s not correct.  Effectively, her allegations as to the drainage issue were ultimately not really addressed.  She had sought an injunction, but the trial court denied her a preliminary injunction.  By the time the case was tried on the permanent injunction following a long hiatus in which the above battle over the flash drive’s revelations was fought, the drainage project was by then substantially complete, so an injunction would not lie, as the court of appeal subsequently affirmed.  Thereby the court of appeal was able to sweep aside the issues of wrongdoing on the part of the parish government as “moot.”

 

“Thus, the defense’s diversion of attention by alleging that the plaintiff’s withholding of evidence (i.e., the flash drive, which itself had revealed the defendants’ intentional withholding as well as altering of evidence – one must appreciate the irony here) coupled with the defendants’ and the court’s use of technical procedural issues buried both what happened on her property and the many tricks and games played by the defendants.   Through these devices, the plaintiffs’ case was delayed and bled dry of its substance while the defendants’ clear wrong doing was buried, all at substantial cost to the taxpayers in attorney fees and costs.

 

Here are the citations to the two court of appeal opinions:

Stevens v. St. Tammany Parish Gov’t, 16-0534 (La. App. 1 Cir. 1/18/2017); 212 So.3d 568

Stevens v. St. Tammany Parish Gov’t, 16-0197 (La. App. 1 Cir. 1/18/2017); 212 So.3d 562

 

UPDATE @ 10:26 a.m. on 2/7/19:

We were also contacted by another individual, and we were asked to make public the Stephens final judgment.  Since we have presented Mr. Coleman’s assertions regarding the appeal on the Stephens matter, we will certainly provide that final judgment both at the previous link as well as replicated in full with the highlighted text we were provided included below:

 

 

 

 

 

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Almost two years ago, we published a feature on St. Tammany businessman and member of the Louisiana State Police Commission (LSPC) Jared Caruso-Riecke and his historical glee at flaunting his ability to evade police radars via his hidden dashboard’s extensive radar detection equipment as well as cross-country race teams affiliated with him readily (and illegally) changing license plates if the team heard its license plate called out on police scanners.

When we published the feature, we were soon contacted by several members of CCST, all of whom have been concerned about the rank corruption which clearly exists entailing the government of St. Tammany Parish.  By then, they’d already been subjected to coroner Peter Galvin’s imprisonment on state and Federal charges of using an unqualified taxpayer-funded employee of his to service inmates at a Slidell jail rather than doing so on his own time.  Prosecutors alleged that, through his scheme, he managed to pocket $350,000 and included in his prison sentences was a condition that he make restitution to taxpayers of St. Tammany Parish.

 That was soon followed by long-time corrupt St. Tammany Parish DA Walter Reed being sentenced to an incredibly light four-year prison sentence for pure, rank political corruption.  Like Galvin, Reed was also ordered to make restitution to St. Tammany Parish taxpayers to the tune of $572,067, pay a $15,000 fine as well as $40,709 to the IRS and $1,800 to the Federal Government.

In today’s Sound Off Louisiana feature, founder Robert Burns examines St. Tammany Parish government’s newest member to its Governmental Hall of Shame.  He does so after having again been contacted by CCST, which has expressed shock and dismay that St. Tammany Parish Chief Administrative Officer Kelly Rabalais has made the runoff for an election to a three-year position on the Board of Governors of the Louisiana State Bar Association representing the Fifth District of that Association.  Here’s a brief video expressing CCST’s concerns:

Burns analyzes the concerns of CCST members that Rabalais has made the 5th District runoff for a three-year Governor’s position on the LSBA.

 

Support documents or links referenced by Burns in the above video:

  1. Rabalais lying about a St. Tammany Parish servitude to a member of CCST, Terri Stevens, through whose property raw sewage was flowing in violation of local, state, and Federal laws regarding the illegal discharge of raw sewage.

 

Rabalais also withheld documents from Stevens, who had made public records request regarding the servitude, which would have exposed her lie, and acted unethically in stating to the St. Tammany Parish Council that Stevens’ litigation regarding the illegal discharge of raw sewage was “meritless.”

 

Her deceit to the St. Tammany Parish Council cost it over $100,000 in legal fees defending against a lawsuit that was anything but “meritless.”

 

  1. CCST’s Amicus Brief filed to prevent the St. Tammany Parish Council (and particularly Parish President Pat Brister) from ignoring the will of the people and continuing to hire private attorneys, to include Rabalais, rather than utilizing the services of District Attorney Warren Montgomery, who had to file the litigation, as it is mandated to do per the terms of its Home Charter.

 

  1. Louisiana Supreme Court’s 7-0 ruling concurring with the above Amicus Brief and reversing both the trial judge and the First Circuit Court of Appeal which had ruled that St. Tammany Parish Council could ignore its Home Charter, ignore a clear vote of the people of St. Tammany Parish, and hire Brister’s choices for the “legal department” (to include Rabalais) rather than using Montgomery’s services as DA.

 

  1. Covington Mayor Mike Cooper announcing his plan to challenge Pat Brister for Parish President in the October 12, 2019 primary.

 

  1. Unable to hire Rabalais as outside counsel due to the Supreme Court’s ruling linked in # 3 above, Brister promoted Rabalais, notwithstanding the obvious highly questionable ethics Rabalais demonstrated, her issues about both improperly denying public records and allegedly ordering an altering of those records so that they would not conform to Stevens’ request, to be her Chief Administrative Officer, and the St. Tammany Parish Council approved her selection 12-1.

 

  1. Brief bio on Jack Whitehead, Rabalais’ opponent for the Fifth District’s Board of Governors position on the Louisiana State Bar Association.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We’ll see what the attorneys of this state decide, as the deadline for voting ends on February 11, 2019.  We’ll certainly supplement this post with the final results of that election!

 

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9 thoughts on “Are Louisiana lawyers poised to elect ethically-challenged St. Tammany Parish CFO attorney Kelly Rabalias to an esteemed position on the Louisiana State Bar Association?”

  1. I have reviewed the court record in the Steven’s case and I suggest you do the same. The allegations as alleged by Mrs. Stevens were not founded and she was ordered to pay attorneys fees and expert fees. Please also give a source for your claim that Mrs. Rabalias is ethically challenged. Has she been disciplined by the bar association? Seems that your post is false and defamatory. This is smear campaign in coordination with CCST in an effort to help her opponent.

  2. Well, that was a nice spin on facts by Mr. Coleman. However, my comment was factual and you have now continued to print false information without a correction. And you haven’t addressed the basis for the “ethically challenged” headline. Mrs. Stevens can make any allegation she wants (as she highlights above in her memos) but it doesn’t make them true and you have printed them and taken them as true statements. Now that you know they were dismissed by the Court, you should correct your post.

  3. Curious that “Eve” claims to have “reviewed” the court record of the case(s) in question but if “Eve” had, she would have clearly recognized that an appeal to the higher court has been taken on the MSJ (2015-10649) drainage issue published above in her highlighted pages, and that the Coleman Blog was written in reference to the settled Mandamus case (2015-11327) which the Parish resoundly lost on 5 of 7 Public Records components of the PRR case, resulting in a substantial award, and the Parish also lost after appealing it to the 1st Circuit, resulting in attorneys fees and court costs being awarded to the PLAINTIFF. Where is that highlighted judgment? The facts of the final appeal in that case were that the Parish (the Custodian of Public Records being directed by Kelly Rabalais at the time as head of the Parish illegal department) withheld over 100,000 responsive records (literally, over 134,000 bates-stamped files) related to the case…which is indisputable since they suddenly “found them” after being sued and have subsequently claimed to have located thousands more since the judgment. Some of those records were clearly and untimely withheld, under “interesting” circumstances as noted in Mr. Coleman’s blog, which is also now a part of the public record, several times over. Ask yourselves…why might the Parish fight so hard to hide Public records which were clearly responsive to the PRR requests made? Is Animus ethical? That seems to be the basis for the headline? We might be able to discuss the 2015-10649 drainage case on another day…but since it is still in litigation, the ad hoc Judge asked that it not be discussed on social media in detail until the appeal process has been exhausted. If “Eve” had actually reviewed the case(s), she would know this. As such, her posted judgment is not relevant to the Coleman blog-wrong case entirely.

  4. In the much bigger STP scheme of things, one might find Ms. Rabalais to have acted in an ethically-challenged manner when she withheld public documents in a different case entirely (as supervisor of the Custodian of Public Records), losing it as well (Lowe v. STPG 2016-10220), or how about how Ms. Rabalais, as executive Counsel for Parish Pres. Brister, guided Brister’s decision to ignore the will of the voters and set up their own legal department? And then Rabalais made herself the head of that ill-conceived Legal Department (benefiting from her participation)? Was that ethical?
    Or how about when, as acting executive Counsel to Ms. Brister, Ms. Rabalais assisted in guiding the enactment of the EDD (Economic Development District) taxes along I-12 by gerrymandering land boundaries to avoid a required public vote?
    Were these couple of examples-were they legal, and ethical? It appears that after losing at the Supreme Court on the DA legal representation issue (dismantling the illegal department), Ms. Rabalais may have been removed from her position by the DA…so was it “ethical” for Brister to protect Rabalais by elevating her to the highest paid position in the Parish? Ethical considerations are very subjective, it seems.

  5. You are just a disgruntled losing litigant. What you have described above is not ethical wrong doing. Where is the discipline, if so. Seems to me if the judge has issued an order to not discuss the case, you are in violation. I am not a party to either suit and not bound by any such order. I pulled the judgments from the public record. Why haven’t you or CCST advised people of those judgments? By the way, having a good faith legal dispute does not make one’s actions unethical. If I recall correctly, two lower courts found for the parish in the DA’s suit. Therefore, the parish obviously had a valid legal basis for their position. You left that out too. But I wouldn’t expect you to see the facts any other way given your animus toward the Parish. You obvioulsy have way too much time on your hands.

    1. Obviously Eve, you failed to pull the correct judgment for the correct lawsuit which pertained to the Coleman blog…kindly check your document numbers because you posted the wrong judgment. Hiding and withholding public records could easily be construed by a reasonable person as acting unethically (i.e. morally wrong). If not an expressed or underlying animus toward the requester, what possible reason would a public official have to withhold public records on any issue?? Certainly I felt no animus in requesting public records, that simply would make no sense. The court agreed that the laws were violated, and we won that case (and I was not asked by any Judge not to discuss that case). “Good faith legal disputes” don’t occur when one party owes a duty to the other, and then violates the duty…that amounts to “Bad Faith”. Be it a duty to provide public records, or a duty to protect the Health, Safety and Welfare of the General Public (HSW), or a duty to abide by the Public Vote. Ms. Rabalais owed a duty to those who pay her salary to abide by all of these obligations.
      Oh, and kindly check Rabalais’ sworn oath to the residents, also a public record, for proof of that. She swore to uphold the Laws of the State, Federal and Local Government. Clearly, she isn’t aware what those are, in any of the issues mentioned above.
      But why you feel the duty to defend her actions is the greater mystery here…. Brister and Rabalais lost on both the DA issue and the PRR issues in at least two different cases so far, and is also currently involved in a Federal lawsuit action brought against both Brister and Rabalais, personally, in the Mary case (similar accusations-), Case 2:17-cv-04977-JTM-MBN, which will be heard by a jury in May 2019…so, I have to wonder why you feel that you have a dog in this hunt?

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