Judge Johnson signs order for Contradictory Hearing for LSP to surrender 175-fully-redacted pages on Trooper Lopez for in-camera inspection; SMPG star witnesses head for the hills as May 3 Broussard hearing date approaches.

 

Louisiana State Police Trooper Scott Lopez

UPDATE (4/28/22 @ 3:10 p.m.).  Upon routine weekly review of cases we track, we noted that, on this very day, April 28, 2022, a contradictory hearing was set for May 23, 2022 at 10:00 a.m. regarding our attempts to have Judge Don Johnson view approximately 175-fully-redacted pages entailing LSP Trooper Scott Lopez.  We have accordingly updated the title of this feature and the applicable paragraph below to reflect Judge Johnson setting the matter for contradictory hearing.

Let us begin this feature by updating our subscribers and site visitors on our recent lawsuit against Louisiana State Police (LSP) wherein we assert LSP may have intentionally engaged in excessive redacting regarding documentation we requested on LSP Trooper Scott Lopez.  As everyone knows at this point, we’ve asked for 19th JDC Judge Don Johnson to examine the approximate 175-fully-redacted pages in-camera.

LSP retained attorney Dennis J. Phayer of the Metairie law firm of Burglass and Tankersley to defend against our lawsuit.  Mr. Phayer filed this answer with the standard denial paragraphs for various reasons.  Mr. Phayer did, however, invoke LA R. S. 44:3(C):

C. Whenever the same is necessary, judicial determination pertaining to compliance with this Section or with constitutional law shall be made after a contradictory hearing as provided by law……

On April 28, 2022, Judge Johnson did opt to fill in the blanks on our order page.  The matter is set for hearing on Monday, May 23, 2022 at 10:00 a.m., and we’ll update the just-linked order page once we have possession of a copy with that date and time filled in.

Meanwhile, on the “Billy Broussard front,” subscribers and site visitors will recall that, on March 3, 2022, Broussard served SMPG with this First Set of Interrogatories and this First Set of Requests for Admissions of Fact.  Five days later, on March 8, 2022, Broussard served SMPG with this request for production of documents.   He did all of that while serving as “interim coach” of his own legal team after his previous counsel, Michael Adley, filed a Motion to Withdraw as a result of Broussard sending an email, which was improperly copied to SMPG attorney Lee Durio, that Broussard wanted Parish President Chester Cedars deposed and that his deposition be videotaped.

Broussard subsequently retained attorney Heather Duhon-Moore, and she also served SMPG with discovery requests.

Notwithstanding the fact that 53 days (as of the day of this feature, April 25, 2022) have passed since Broussard submitted his first discovery requests above, SMPG has yet to dignify them with a response!  They also have not responded to Ms. Duhon-Moore’s discovery requests either.

Despite not providing a scintilla of response to either Broussard or Duhon-Moore’s discovery requests, SMPG had the unmitigated gall to then, on April 22, 2022 (three days before this feature and a mere 11 days before the May 3, 2022 hearing) submit its own discovery requests to Broussard.

Now, we’re not sure just how Ms. Duhon-Moore may handle the request, but we’re going to have a little fun playing “attorney for a day.”

Even as we first provided an overview of some of the obvious deficiencies of SMPG Attorney Lee Durio’s second filing for a Temporary Restraining Order on March 3, 2022 (where we pointed out things like playing loose with the date of a Cease and Desist letter and using words like “Stickley” which should have clearly been “strictly”), we noted then that we saw other obvious problems with his filing, but we deferred to the attorneys to examine those aspects of Durio’s filing.

Since we’re now in “crunch time” regarding the hearing date, we’re now prepared to identify a huge deficiency in Durio’s filing for which we remained mute in that previous feature.

Some St. Martinville residents have said that SMPG officials are stating to residents that Broussard came on his hands and knees begging for the original Preliminary Injunction hearing in mid-September of 2021 to be continued while a “compromise process” was worked upon.  The simple reality is that it was SMPG President Chester Cedars, and NOT Billy Broussard, who begged for that continuance!

Why?  Because he knew full well that, as a result of the phenomenal Pre-Trial Memorandum submitted by then-Broussard counsel, Michael Adley, Cedars’ proverbial goose was cooked!  It’s that simple!  That’s also why we were frustrated beyond words as to why Adley inexplicably agreed to the “compromise process.”

That fact notwithstanding, Adley certainly performed magnificently for Broussard in essentially tying SMPG’s hands regarding future litigation filings and court arguments as the price he extracted from SMPG as part of that “compromise process.”

So, with the fact now clearly established that it was Cedars, and not Broussard, who begged for the continuance, and Adley agreed to it ONLY after SMPG agreed in writing to the terms specified in this email of September 14, 2021 (and which Durio acknowledged agreement by SMPG on September 16, 2021).  Let’s now highlight some critical wording in that agreement from the just-linked email (with our own emphasis in red):

From: leedurio@duriolaw.com <leedurio@duriolaw.com>
Sent: Thursday, September 16, 2021 11:54 AM
To: Michael Adley <michaeladley@gibsonlawpartners.com>
Subject: RE: SMPG v. Billy Broussard

 

Yes, we agree.

From: Michael Adley <michaeladley@gibsonlawpartners.com>
Sent: Tuesday, September 14, 2021 2:29 PM
To: leedurio@duriolaw.com
Cc: Susan Quebedeaux <susanquebedeaux@gibsonlawpartners.com>; Nell Stephens <NellStephens@gibsonlawpartners.com>; Gregory Logan <greg@loganfirm.com>
Subject: SMPG v. Billy Broussard

 

Lee,

 

We just concluded our meeting with Calder Hebert. We were asked to complete and submit the attached Petition for Zoning Change.

 

Prior to completing and executing the Petition for Zoning Change, we would like an agreement of the following:

 

  • Completing and filing the Petition for Zoning Change and participation in any public hearings and appeals regarding the same are solely in an attempt at compromise.
  • Completing and filing the Petition for Zoning Change and participation in any public hearings and appeals regarding the same shall not be considered an admission of guilt, wrongdoing, or an admission of a violation of any purported zoning. Billy Broussard and his legal entities expressly deny that they are in violation of any zoning ordinance and deny that any change in zoning is necessary.
  • The Petition for Zoning Change, the information contained within, and the information discussed at any public hearing or appeal is not admissible in this litigation or any litigation concerning Billy Broussard or any of his legal entities, provided that it will be admissible only in any appeals of the decision on the Petition for Zoning Change.
  • The Petition for Zoning Change asks that we enter the current zoning of the property. We dispute that the property is zoned as R-2; however, it has been represented to us in your petition that the property is zoned R-2. Filling in this blank on the Petition for Zoning Change as R-2 shall not be an admission that the property is zoned R-2 and shall not be admissible in any litigation concerning Billy Broussard or any of his legal entities.
  • The Petition for Zoning Change asks that we enter the requested zoning change. We dispute that any zoning change is needed for Billy Broussard or his legal entities to conduct their current activities on the property; however, SMPG has alleged Billy Broussard and his legal entities are in violation of the current zoning. Filing in this blank on the Petition for Zoning Change shall not be an admission that the property needs to be rezoned as requested in order for Billy Broussard or any of his legal entities to conduct their current activities on the property and shall not be admissible in any litigation concerning Billy Broussard or any of his legal entities.

 

Please let me know if you can agree to the above.

 

Thanks.

 

Michael Adley

So, if we were “attorney for a day,” we would first seek from the judge a Motion to Strike every single word of Durio’s petition which references the zoning variance request from his SMGP petition as it should never have been in the suit to begin with!  Durio was well aware of that fact, yet he chose to place it in SMPG’s March 3, 2022 TRO petition!

Let’s get specific on just what all we’re talking about that we would move for the judge to strike from Durio’s petition:

On or about October 4, 2021, Defendant, BILLY BROUSSARD, then formally requested a zoning change before the St. Martin Parish Zoning Commission.

The request for a zoning change was heard before the St. Martin Parish Zoning Commission on January 6, 2022.

The St. Martin Parish Zoning Commission denied Defendant’s request for zoning change.

On March 2, 2022, the St. Martin Parish Council adopted the recommendation of the St. Martin Parish Zoning Commission thereby formally rejecting the request of the Defendant.

Trust us, Broussard has been keenly aware of that agreement Adley shrewdly negotiated above, and he has made triple-dog sure that Duhon-Moore is keenly aware of it as well!

Who knows?  Durio may have at last come to that realization as it appears SMPG may be likely to downplay any zoning violation on the part of Broussard (notwithstanding the emphasis within Durio’s TRO request that Broussard is in violation of zoning and his activities are “Stickley prohibited.”)

Instead, SMPG just may be opting to lean much more heavily on that patently-absurd Ordinance (Adley’s Pre-Trial Memorandum certainly dealt with its shortcomings) which SMPG President Chester Cedars crammed down the Council’s throat for what increasingly looks like a concerted effort to assist an unnamed competitor of Broussard’s by shutting down Broussard’s ability to haul in vegetive materials to his 33-acre site.  We’ve said on a previous feature that was the absolute worst look of all entailing Cedar’s 19-minute tirade against Broussard on August 3, 2021.

In fact, let’s spend a grand total of 33 seconds examining Cedars reference to a Broussard competitor and how joyful that competitor was described by Cedars as being as a result of Cedars’ ordinance:


August 3, 2021 SMPG Meeting:  SMPG President Chester Cedars states his conversations with a direct Broussard competitor who indicated to Cedars he was “all for this ordinance, by the way.”

Beyond that horrendously-bad look this gives that a Parish President would seek the blessing of a Broussard competitor regarding this ordinance, we draw attention to the fact that Cedars adds the words “to burn” in referencing Broussard’s competitor!  Broussard has stressed ad nauseum that he has never had any intention of burning (which is why Adley had no qualms agreeing to that stipulation in the agreement we’re about to reference below)!  Broussard, therefore, is in no need of a DEQ Burn Permit for hauling in vegetative materials on his 33-acre site!  As Cedars would add to the end of that sentence, “Period!”

What’s really interesting now is that all of SMPG’s star witnesses (with the possible exception of LSP Trooper Scott Lopez, and we’re not even sure anymore of how much of a “star” he may still be) suddenly have “conflicts” which will preclude their testimonies at the May 3, 2022 hearing.

We really don’t feel a need to rehash all the credibility problems inherent with Blake Dubroc, who operates a used-car lot immediately next to Broussard’s property, but it seems he won’t be present for the court hearing due to scheduling a “major” event on the exact date of the hearing!  Imagine that!

Likewise, Calder “Pop” Hebert, SMPG’s Director of Administration and a key player entailing text exchanges between Lopez and himself, suddenly has urgent business to attend to in New York!  We guess he figures that if he can, “make it there, he’ll make it anywhere,” and so he’s heading on up for “New York, New York!”

Let us not forget while Hebert enjoys New York, however, that it was he who allegedly was simultaneously telling Broussard and his attorney that the zoning variance would be “no problem,” yet he was encouraging LSP Trooper Lopez to continue gathering photographs and texting them to him so that he could continue to “add them to the file.”  We’ll point out the fact that those texts and photos continued after the all-important September 14, 2021 date which we’re about to illustrate the significance of at this time.

Apparently, Hebert never saw fit to inform Lopez that another stipulation of the “compromise agreement” reached on September 14, 2021 was that Broussard could resume ALL of his previous hauling operations.  Heck, let’s take a look at that stipulation (again, the red is our own emphasis):

From: Michael Adley <michaeladley@gibsonlawpartners.com>
Sent: Monday, September 13, 2021 1:42 PM
To: leedurio@duriolaw.com
Cc: Gregory Logan <greg@loganfirm.com>; Susan Quebedeaux <susanquebedeaux@gibsonlawpartners.com>; Nell Stephens <NellStephens@gibsonlawpartners.com>
Subject: Re: SMPG v. Billy Broussard

 

Agreed. Thanks Lee. Where do we go for the meeting tomorrow?

Sent from my iPhone

 

On Sep 13, 2021, at 1:36 PM, leedurio@duriolaw.com wrote:

 

Michael,

 

SMPG agrees to the below terms assuming that you and your agree that the continuing of the hearing to allow for Mr. Broussard to apply with planning and zoning it also not an admission or admissible should more ligation occur and it is not valid.

 

Also, no burning of vegetation  will take place on the premises pending the application process.

 

Please advise.

 

-Lee

 

 

Lee C. Durio

Attorney at Law

241 W. Mills Avenue

Breaux Bridge, Louisiana 70517

Phone: 337-909-1111

Fax: 337-909-1112

Email: leedurio@duriolaw.com

 

From: Michael Adley <michaeladley@gibsonlawpartners.com>
Sent: Monday, September 13, 2021 1:14 PM
To: leedurio@duriolaw.com
Cc: Susan Quebedeaux <susanquebedeaux@gibsonlawpartners.com>; Nell Stephens <NellStephens@gibsonlawpartners.com>; Gregory Logan <greg@loganfirm.com>
Subject: SMPG v. Billy Broussard

 

Lee,

 

I just gave you a call. I spoke with Billy and we are able to come to an agreement. To confirm our telephone conversation:

 

  • The parties will agree to continue the hearing on the preliminary injunction. You will advise the Court the preliminary injunction has been continued.
  • St. Martin Parish Government will arrange a meeting tomorrow, September 14, 2021, at 1:00 with Calder Hebert (and any other appropriate authority for planning and zoning) for Billy Broussard to seek a zoning variance for the property. This meeting is an effort at compromise. It is not considered an admission of guilt  or wrongdoing. It is not an admission that Billy Broussard or any of his legal entities are violating any purported zoning ordinances.
  • St. Martin Parish Government will allow the temporary restraining order to expire and will not seek to enjoin or interfere with Billy Broussard’s (or any of his legal entities) use of the property while he seeks a variance.
  • St. Martin Parish Government will dismiss the petition with prejudice if an acceptable variance is granted.

 

Please confirm.

 

Thanks.

 

Michael Adley

 

Michael O. Adley

Gibson Law Partners, LLC

2448 Johnston Street

Lafayette, LA 70503

PO Box 52124

Lafayette, LA 70505

Phone: 337-761-6033

Fax: 337-761-6061

E-mail:  MichaelAdley@GibsonLawPartners.com

Website:  http://www.gibsonlawpartners.com

It would seem a real shame that Hebert never saw fit to alert Lopez of the above agreement, no?  We have no doubt that Lopez may not be happy with that fact nor the fact that SMPG attorney Allan Durand never once interrupted Lopez during his January 6, 2022 performance to say something like, “Look, dude, we told him he could do all of this, so quit repeatedly saying that what he is doing is ‘illegal.'”

We can only state how we would feel about the apparent deafening silence on the part of Hebert and/or Durand and/or Cedars, but if we were in Lopez’s shoes, we can only say that we would not be very happy about that silence.  Nevertheless, perhaps he was so mesmerized to be “working with parish officials” entailing shutting Broussard down that he’ll just let it all slide.  After all, he’s indicated in the past that he likes to “politic.”

Irrespective of whether Lopez may be willing to let it all slide by or not, we’ll leave it for him to wonder why everyone has suddenly appeared to  abandoned ship and left him as the front man not only at the January 6, 2022 Planning and Zoning meeting but also apparently at the May 3, 2022 court hearing.  He just may find himself as lonely on that witness stand as the Maytag repair man!

Now, we’re not going to suggest to Duhon-Moore just what all exhibits she may wish to introduce at the court hearing (which is basically what Durio is seeking in his discovery request of April 22, 2022), but there’s an abundance of easily-referenced (and equally-easily-downloadable) texts, emails, etc., from all of our prior features on Broussard on this matter, so we’ll conclude this feature by merely consolidating all of the links in one place below to serve as an online “buffet table” of such material:

1.  LSP Trooper Lopez allegedly demands Broussard’s driver not go down “my road” again (feature contains and extensive video tour of Broussard’s 33-acre farm).

2.  Cedars obtains court-ordered Temporary Restraining Order shutting down Broussard’s farming operations.

3.  Broussard’s attorney asserts in court filings that Cedars is on “crusade” to “harass” Broussard.

4.  Cedars caves and begs for TRO court hearing to be cancelled and offers major concessions to Broussard to do so.

5.  Sound Off Louisiana’s founder explains how SMPG President Chester Cedars is the “epitome and personification of Louisiana’s hostile reputation toward small businesses.”

7.  Farmer Billy Broussard files second complaint against LSP Trooper Lopez concerning claims of “illegal acts” voiced at public meeting; Sen. Boudreaux commits to confer with LSP Col. Davis on complaint.

8.  SMPG’s Cedars’ “compromise process” emits vile stench of corruption, totalitarianism in deploying Blake Dubroc, his sketchy history notwithstanding.

9.  Has St. Martin Parish President Cedars racked up massive legal fees obstructing minor initiatives like Broussard’s only to open up “Pandora’s box” for yet more legal fees?

10.  St. Martin Parish Council lives up to and even exceeds anticipated dog-and-pony show; votes 7-0 on Broussard’s zoning variance without even specifying what motion is being voted upon!

11.  Even as SMPG dumps 14 loads of debris on Broussard’s property leading up to Council meeting, Sheriff’s Deputies arrive and inform him that they told them Broussard is, “Barred from going on your property.”

12.  St. Martin Parish President Cedars goes for jugular on Broussard, takes aim at LCG alleging improper removal of spoil banks from Vermillion River.

13.  Sound Off Louisiana sues LSP asserting too aggressive use of “right to privacy” on Trooper Scott Lopez similarly to Chris Eskew’s promotion to Lt. Colonel notwithstanding his 44-hour suspension for theft of cable television.

14.  Could LSP Trooper Lopez’s “helping to politic for Louis Ackal,” subsequent association with the controversial sheriff partly explain 175 pages of fully-redacted Lopez LSP personnel documents?

We’ll certainly let our subscribers and site visitors know how the court hearing on May 3, 2022 goes and certainly keep everyone abreast of any further developments on our LSP litigation referenced at the outset of this feature.

If you would like to be added to our Sound Off Louisiana email list to be notified of future posts, simply go to our home page and scroll to the bottom (mobile devices) or to the top of the right-hand column (desktops).  Supply your email address within the subscribe box.  You’ll then receive an automated email from Word Press, and all you have to do is click on the blue “confirm follow” bar contained within that email, and you’ll begin receiving great posts such as the preceding one above.

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