Attorney Eric Haik, whom Billy Broussard, in a filing of Thursday, April 13, 2023, disclosed he’d provided “remedial training” to entailing La CCP Article 971 (Special Motion to Strike) and the ability to recover “reasonable attorney fees” through it. Broussard also alleged in that same court filing that Haik, attorney Ali LeBlanc, and 16th JDC Judge Vincent Borne showed total disregard for Louisiana Court Regulation Local Rule 9.5 to such an extent that they just, “threw it right out the window” on February 15, 2023.
On Saturday, April 15, 2023, Billy Broussard sat down with us to update everyone on the current status of his two sepearate defamation lawsuits, one of which is against Louisiana State Police (LSP) Trooper Scott Lopez and his son, Benjamin Cole Lopez, and the other of which is against Melissa Dubroc and Mendy “Mob Boss” Girouard.
Broussard provided the update a mere two (2) days after filing this April 13, 2023 Opposition Memorandum to Lopez & Lopez’s Peremptory Exception of No Cause of Action, which is scheduled to be argued in front of Judge Lewis Pitman on Monday, April 24, 2023 at 9:00 a.m.
Let’s first present a video of Broussard updating everyone on the status of the two suits, after which we’ll put on full display highlights of Broussard’s Exception Memorandum and conclude with a table of key filings and other documents in the “Mob Boss” Litigation. Here’s Broussard’s discussion with us of Saturday, April 15, 2023:
4/15/23: Broussard provides an overview of his two defemation lawsuits entailing LSP Trooper Scott Lopez and his son, Benjamin and the second lawsuit entailing Melissa Dubroc and Mendy “Mob Boss” Girouard.
Okay. Now, from Broussard’s 4/13/23 Opposition Memorandum on the Lopez litigation linked above:
Plaintiff begins this Memorandum by quoting a portion of Defendants’ Exception (boldface emphasis is that of Plaintiff):
“ A similar Exception of No Cause of Action was filed by Defendants in that case. The Exception hearing took place on February 15, 2023. Judge Borne granted Defendants’ Exception and allowed Petitioner 15 days to either amend his Petition with valid allegations or voluntarily dismiss the suit. The Court sternly advised Petitioner that if a second No Cause/No Right of Action is filed by Defendants and granted, then the Court will assess all costs and attorney’s fees to Petitioner at that time. It is urged that this Court consider following suit to that of Judge Borne and grant the subject Exception of No Cause of Action with the same or similar consequences.”
Defendants’ plea for this Court to “consider following suit” is made notwithstanding Defendants’ knowledge of Plaintiff’s Motion to Recuse Trial Judge Borne over his “stern advice” (a phraseology to which Plaintiff takes strong exception as what was uttered in Court by Judge Borne could be construed as nothing short of threats which he reinforced five or six times and added, “Do you understand me?” as if Plaintiff were a criminal facing sentencing during one of the criminal matters on the docket that same day). Judge Borne, on five or six occasions, as reflected in the official court transcript, stated that he would impose sanctions against Plaintiff if he amended his Petition, the Exception was re-urged, and the Exception was granted a second time.
The Judge overseeing the Recusal Motion, First Circuit Court of Appeal Judge Walter Lanier III, whom the Louisiana Supreme Court appointed to hear the matter upon submission of the Motion by this Court, used the adjective of “artful” to describe Judge Borne’s repeated threats of sanctions made to Plaintiff as referenced above. Just as Plaintiff requested be added to the Judgment’s wording for that hearing, “artful” has the following synonyms listed in the Merriam-Webster dictionary (among others): scheming, devious, deceitful, deceptive, dishonest, cheating, underhanded, untrustworthy, and unscrupulous.
Further, Judge Lanier stated that, because any such future imposition of attorney fees constituted a “contingent event,” the Court could not consider such a future contingency as part of the Court’s consideration of Plaintiff’s Motion to Recuse. There would be little point for Judge Lanier to reference that fact were it not to implicitly communicate that, had Judge Borne imposed any such sanctions on February 15, 2023, he would have granted the Motion to Recuse.
Notwithstanding all of the foregoing, Defense Counsel Haik, despite the knowledge that he should possess given his years of practicing law, appears to need remedial training regarding the conditions for which any such imposition of sanctions would apply. Let Plaintiff provide a refresher course in that regard: Sanctions may be applicable generally under one of the following four (4) conditions:
#1) a contract exists between the parties calling for the prevailing party to recover attorney fees against the losing party (no such contract exists in the instant matter),
#2) a specific statute by which attorney fees may be awarded, and Defense Counsel Haik knows that no such provision is contained in LA CCP Article 934 pertaining to Peremptory Exceptions which would provide for the awarding of any attorney fees,
3) a party has formally moved for attorney fees through asserting LA CCP Article 863, which was not done in the instant matter because any such filing would fail miserably to survive the standard for awarding such attorney fees,
or #4) asserting that Plaintiff violated a Court Order, which is completely inapplicable in the instant matter.
Defense Counsel Haik could have asserted LA CCP Article 971 (Special Motion to Strike) and thereby utilized its statutory provision to formally seek reasonable attorney fees from Plaintiff Under LA CCP Article 971(B). That subsection states, in pertinent part: “In any action subject to Paragraph A of this Article, a prevailing party on a special motion to strike shall be awarded reasonable attorney fees and costs.” Defense attorney Haik failed to file such a Motion; furthermore, the 90-day window from the time of service of the Petition upon Defendants in which he could have filed such a Motion has now passed.
Plaintiff is an avid follower of the blog Sound Off Louisiana, and that blog has covered a number of high-profile cases of alleged Defamation to include Corey delaHoussaye and Murphy Painter.
Judging by the requests of Defense Counsel Haik, the State of Louisiana (Louisiana Office of Inspector General – OIG) must be deploying some truly bone-headed defense attorneys to defend the taxpayers of this state. Why? Because, in the Painter matter, no less than 25 Peremptory Exceptions (the majority of which asserted No Causes of Action) were filed, and yet the defense attorneys never sought attorney fees on behalf of the taxpayers of this state on a single one of those peremptory exceptions! Not one!
That defense firm, Taylor Porter in Baton Rouge, is not exactly a small- time law firm, yet never one time did that firm seek attorney fees through the Exceptions themselves against Painter! That is the case notwithstanding the fact that numerous Peremptory Exceptions were #1) filed, #2) granted, and #3 thereafter re-urged. In fact, in a Court hearing on July 25, 2022 in 19th JDC before Judge Wilson Fields, Defense Attorney for OIG Amy Groves Love complained that Painter had already had “six bites at the apple,” yet on none of those “bites” did Groves-Love or Preston Castille ever seek attorney fees on all of the numerous Exceptions filed in the case!
Perhaps it just may be that those attorneys at Taylor Porter knew that they had no statutory grounds to seek those sanctions and that Painter’s attorney, Al Robert, Jr., would have vehemently objected, and those attorneys at Taylor Porter knew that the firm and the individual attorney, Preston Castille at the time, would have been made to appear as legal incompetents in even making such a “suggestion” of any of the judges who oversaw Painter’s case (Clark reached mandatory retirement age before the suit was dismissed).
The only difference between Painter and Plaintiff is that Plaintiff is pro se, so perhaps Defense Counsel Haik and Judge Borne may have relied upon (and sought to exploit) Plaintiff’s perceived lack of knowledge in even suggesting, much less threatening (on five or six occasions in one Court hearing), the imposition of sanctions in the form of Defendants’ legal fees.
On September 7, 2022, Sound Off Louisiana published the conclusion of the 12-year legal battle between Painter, former ATC Commissioner, and the Louisiana State Office of Inspector General (OIG). In the feature, which presumably Defense Counsel Haik read and watched since he has admitted to Plaintiff that he has become very familiar with the blog, founder Robert Burns, who religiously attends court hearings, explained the conclusion of the suit. Burns conveyed that he attended the entirety of Painter’s 2013 criminal trial (he’s actually done an eight-part series of interviews with Painter about that whole ordeal and timeframe). Burns also conveyed that he’s attended every single hearing of Painter’s civil defamation litigation.
Among the revelations Burns made in the feature entailing the suit being dismissed with prejudice for all Defendants was the fact that the OIG did in fact file a Motion under LA CCP Article 971 on behalf of one Defendant, Shane Evans (former investigator at OIG). That motion indicated that Evans had a right of free speech which afforded him the right to produce the material he did in his investigatory capacity as an OIG Agent. The Judge overseeing the hearing for the potential imposition of CCP Article 971 Sanctions, Judge Wilson Fields of the 19th JDC, granted the Special Motion to Strike.
Though Defendant Evans sought $27,000 in such attorney fees, Judge Fields stated that he felt $27,000 was “not reasonable,” and instead awarded $9,700 in attorney fees. A copy of that Judgment, which was signed by Judge Fields on August 19th 2022, is included in this Memorandum as Exhibit MOPE-A.
Since Defense Attorney Haik did not file a Motion for Attorney Fees under LA CCP Article 971, Plaintiff can only surmise that he felt that he could not prevail in such a Motion before this Court (he similarly filed no such Motion before Judge Borne) and therefore seeks for this Court to “follow suit” on making utterances similar to Judge Borne’s utterances on February 15, 2023.
During a break in the hearing of the Motion to Recuse, Defense Counsel Haik stated to Plaintiff in the presence of numerous witnesses: “Mr. Broussard, you need to understand one thing: A judge can do whatever he wants. It doesn’t matter what is stated in a Statute.”
That statement is utterly profound, and Plaintiff contends that it serves as a demonstration on Defense Counsel Haik’s part that he knows he is not on sound footing in even seeking attorney fees, yet he apparently operates under the presumption that if “he” makes such a request of a Judge in 16th JDC, that Judge has the prerogative to honor that request irrespective of how out-of-bounds it may be with any statutory authority to which the Judge would otherwise be hamstrung.
While Defense Counsel Haik’s statement may in fact be true, Plaintiff suggests that any Judge who cares about his professional reputation to any degree at all would not show such reckless disregard for provisions of Statutes, Codes of Civil Procedure, and Local Rules. Plaintiff will point out that, entailing Local Rule 9.5, which Judge Borne, Defense Counsel Haik, and Defense Counsel LeBlanc seemed to toss right out the window on February 15, 2023, is also something any professional attorney or Judge with ethics should strive to conform. Instead, the three named individuals worked in concert in an attempt to force Plaintiff to submit any objections to wording for the judgment associated with the February 15, 2023 hearing a mere four hours after the court hearing! In fact, Defense Counsel LeBlanc indicated in an email to Plaintiff that, in the absence of any such objections in that four-hour window, “we’ll file it as is later today,” and, when Plaintiff indicated that he wished to avail himself of his five-working-day period to review the Judgment’s wording, Defense Counsel Haik, in demonstrating the ultimate in apparent authoritative rule much as a Sigma Nu Fraternity President may say to a pledge, stated: “It’s not exactly up for discussion!”
Plaintiff trusts that this Court will appropriately show far more regard for such Statutes, Codes of Civil Procedure, and Local Rules, and not make a mockery of the judicial system upon which so many ordinary citizens rely. To do otherwise would merely further erode the trust that the public at large has about the integrity of the judicial system in the state of Louisiana!
Wow! We can’t really add anything to Broussard’s words above except to say we are humbled and flattered that he chose to deploy our September 7, 2022 feature on Murphy Painter and the fact that the Office of Inspector General (OIG) was successful in asserting La CCP Article 971 in obtaining $9,700 in legal fees for its defense of former OIG Investigator Shane Evans.
We will point out, however, that the tenacity of Murphy Painter can never be underestimated, and that fact was demonstrated when, on March 8, 2023, he let it be known that he’d be launching yet another appeal in his 12-year litigation claim.
As Burns mentioned in the video above, he’s actually quite familar with La CCP Article 971 because it was asserted against him twice:
First, in this August 11, 2011 filing by Auctioneer Licensing Board attorney Anna Dow. Judge Michael Caldwell, in ruling that the mere fact Burns was an auctioneer did not make him a “public figure,” uttered, “I’m not striking this,” proceeded to deny the Special Motion to Strike. Like Broussard, Burns was pro se.
Second was this August 8, 2011 filing by Assistant AG Rodney Ramsey on behalf of the Auctioneer Licensing Board’s Executive Director, Sandy Edmonds. Judge Wilson Fields, ruling under much the same logic as Caldwell, likewise denied Edmonds’ Special Motion to Strike. Again, Burns was pro se.
As Burns stated on the video, he’s kind of stunned that Haik didn’t at least try to assert La CCP Article 971, but the fact is he didn’t.
Let us also provide a link for this March 23, 2023 Advocate article in which 14th JDC Judge G. Michael Canady went before the Louisiana Supreme Court admitting “a series of failures” and seeking leniency with “hat in hand.” From that feature:
Canaday said Friday that he knew better, but that he granted the motion anyway……
Being blunt, we believe that Borne likewise “knew better” than to make the kind of repeated threats that he made on February 15, 2023, but he “made them anyway.” If he didn’t know better in terms of the limitations of Peremptory Exceptions in terms of the granting of attorney fees, then that truly is frightening.
All right, time for that table we promised at the outset entailing recent filings and related documents pertaining to the “Mob Boss” litigation. Here it is:
|Date of Court Filing or Other Relevant Material Becoming Available||Court Filing or Other Relevant Material|
|February 15, 2023||Peremptory Exception hearing conducted in which Judge Borne REPEATEDLY threatened Broussard with attorney fees if he amended the Petition, the Exception was re-urged, and the Exception deemed not to be cured. CLICK HERE for transcript.|
|February 22, 2023||Citing "extreme bias" on the part of Judge Borne, Broussard files this Motion and Order for the Recusal of Judge Borne|
|March 27, 2023||Broussard receives notice in the mail that the Louisiana Supreme Court has appointed First Circuit Judge Walter Lanier III to hear Broussard's Recusal Motion|
|March 28, 2023||Recusal hearing transpires with Judge Lanier using the adjective "artful" to describe Borne's "admonishment" of Broussard regarding attorneys fees referenced on transcript above. Lanier further indicates that, because any such imposition of attorney fees constituted a "contingent event," the Court could not consider it in making its decision on recusal. Judge Lanier indicated that, since Judge Borne did NOT impose sanctions ON February 15, 2023, he was denying Broussard's Recusal Motion. Transcript has been requested and will be provided on a subsequent feature.|
|March 29, 2023||Susan Legros, assistant to Judge Borne, sends email to Haik and Broussard asking where things stand for an April 3, 2023 Court hearing, and Broussard indicates he's "working on a proposal which may negate the need for any hearing."|
|March 29, 2023||Broussard, despite knowing it would likely be a non-starter, sends email to Haik indicating that he's willing to voluntarily dismiss his Petition With Prejudice with "each party to bear their own costs."|
|March 30, 2023||After giving Haik until noon to mull over his proposal on "each party to bear their own costs," Broussard fires a silver bullet in informing Haik that he intends to file this Motion and Order WITH Prejudice at PLAINTIFF's COST by 3:00 p.m. that same day.|
|March 30, 2023||Broussard indicated to us that he submitted the Motion and Order to Dismiss With Prejudice at PLAINTIFF's Cost in accordance with LA CCP Article 1671.|
|March 30, 2023||Broussard files the above Motion at approximately 3:11 p.m., at which time the St. Martin Parish Clerk of Court tells him that, if he merely pays Defendants' Court Costs, "This case is over!"|
|March 30, 2023||Broussard pulls out his credit card, pays approximately $1,150 in Defendants' Court costs, after which the St. Martin Parish Clerk of Court provided him with this receipt, and further informed him that they were marking the case "DISMISSED" on the Court Docket for April 3, 2023 and that he was, "under no obligation to attend any court hearing on that date."|
|March 30, 2023||True to their word, St. Martin Parish Clerk of Court Officials struck through Broussard's docket number and declared the matter "Dismissed." That's the way it stayed on the Court Docket up to and INCLUDING an April 3, 2023 Court Hearing.|
|March 30, 2023||St. Martin Parish Clerk of Court officials issue a refund of Court Costs check to Haik.|
|March 30, 2023||Notwithstanding all of the foregoing, Haik, within an hour of Broussard filing his Motion to Dismiss, files this "expedited Motion" for imposition of CCP Article 863 Sanctions. He scrambled to such an extent that he even concluded the Motion with "Support Memorandum to Follow."|
|March 31, 2023||Haik follows his prior day's Motion with this Memorandum in Support|
|March 31, 2023||Broussard again calls St. Martin Parish Clerk of Court Officials, and they indicate he does NOT need to attend a Court Hearing the following Monday, April 3, 2023, and further that "the matter is closed."|
|April 3, 2023||Based on Clerk of Court assurances, Broussard opts not to attend Court Hearing (most especially since he'd not been served with "expedited hearing" for Sanctions.) However, Sound Off Louisiana's Burns DID attend.|
|April 3, 2023||Susan Legros, assistant for Judge Borne, telephones Broussard twice (at approximately 8:40 a.m. and 8:43 a.m.) with a, "friendly reminder that you have court this morning."|
|April 3, 2023||Broussard's matter is discussed. CLICK HERE for the transcript.|
|April 3, 2023||In a sharp change in Borne's wording, he stresses twice within the same sentence that, if ANY attorney fees are awarded, it will be only after a hearing, which he set for May 23, 2023.|
|April 3, 2023||Borne indicated that the only bone of contention that even exists now is attorney fees, and he asked that Haik and Broussard work to resolve that matter.|
|April 4, 2023||Broussard, once informed (by Sound Off Louisiana's Burns) that Borne stated in court he, "failed to sign Broussard's dismissal order because it delineated things other than just a dismissal. It delineated and directed payment of court cost -- his own cost and what not...," Broussard filed this "clean" Motion and Order to Dismiss WITH Prejudice at PLAINTIFF's Cost|
|April 6, 2023||Broussard contacts St. Martin Parish Clerk of Court's Office and is told that Judge Borne has stated that he is not signing ANYTHING (not even the Judgment granting the Peremptory Exception from way back on February 15, 2023, which Haik asked him court if he would sign at the 4/3/23 hearing) until the May 23, 2023 hearing transpires.|
So, there you have it folks. There’s the update on the two defamation cases of Billy Broussard. Just think, it all started on June 14, 2021 when LSP Trooper Scott Lopez allegedly pulled over a driver of Billy Broussard and told him, “You better not go down my road again!” Who would have ever dreamed that one simple exercise would end up involving the Chief Justice of the Louisiana Supreme Court in appointing an ad hoc judge, and that judge would traverse from Thibodaux, Louisiana to hear a Recusal Motion and all this other fallout would transpire?
Let us close with this: During a break on the Recusal Motion Hearing on March 28, 2023, Haik told Broussard, “You think I know all the judges around here. Yeah, I know them! I even know this Judge (Judge Lanier) and, guess what, I even know his wife!” He then indicated to Broussard what Lanier’s “wife’s” position was.
It obviously was material that could likely easily be looked up on the Internet. Anyway, once the entire hearing was over and everyone was preparing to depart, Haik asked of Lanier, “That’s your wife who is <whatever the position was>, right?” Judge Lanier’s response: “No, that’s my sister!”
So much for impressing Broussard with Haik’s knowledge of all the judges in South Louisiana!
As the late C. B. Forgotston used to say, “You can’t make this stuff up!”
We’ll report on Broussard’s April 24, 2023 hearing before Judge Pitman and also the “high noon” hearing of May 23, 2023 soon after each has transpired!
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